“Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” – Issue 63 – April – 2015

Padre Pio: Director of Souls – Part III

Download Newsletter Issue 63 April – June 2015

In this issue of our “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry” newsletter, we have included a number of impressive testimonies regarding Padre Pio’s gifts and abilities as a spiritual director par excellence.

smilingPioThere was once a man who lived in Rome (name withheld) who had fallen upon hard times. He had searched for work for months with no success. Because he was not able to support his wife and children, he felt like a total failure. Each day, his situation became more desperate. There would be an endless search for work. He would come home to his family with empty pockets and with no hope of finding employment. When he woke up each morning, he dreaded the new day.

One morning, the man’s depression was so great that he could not think in a rational manner. He decided that it would be better to end his life. While his wife and two children were sleeping peacefully in another part of the house, he turned on the gas in the kitchen. He told himself that his problems would soon be over. Suddenly he heard his son calling his name and it caused him to come to his senses. He quickly turned off the gas and rushed to see what his little boy wanted. After he put his son back to bed, his eyes fell on the crucifix that was hanging on the wall. His wife had put it there. He felt that his wife was fortunate because she had a strong faith in God. He however, had no faith.

One day when the man was on a bus, he struck up a conversation with the person who was sitting next to him. That person happened to be the famous actor, Carlo Campanini. The man told Carlo about his many difficulties. Carlo asked him if he had ever heard of Padre Pio and the man replied that he had not. Carlo shared some facts about Padre Pio’s life. He explained that Padre Pio was a very holy Capuchin priest and a great intercessor with the Lord. Carlo felt that Padre Pio would be able to help the man. He suggested that they go together to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio and the man agreed to go.

On the way to San Giovanni Rotondo, the man wondered to himself why he had agreed to make the trip. He was not a person of faith. He had no interest in things of a religious nature. He couldn’t imagine that he would enjoy spending time at a monastery. He also thought that it was very odd that Carlo Campanini would have such a strong religious inclination. Carlo had fame, fortune, friends, and the respect and admiration of millions. What would motivate him to have so much devotion to a Catholic priest?

The next morning the man went with Carlo to Padre Pio’s Mass. It was the very first time he had ever attended Mass. He tried to follow along as best he could but he was not able to understand the formal prayers or the scripture readings. It was all new to him. He could not grasp it. When the others in the congregation knelt down, he followed suit. When they stood up, he stood up. He tried to say the name Jesus. For the duration of the Mass he kept repeating the name Jesus. It was his only prayer.

After Mass, the man went into the sacristy with a number of others in order to receive Padre Pio’s blessing. Padre Pio was walking toward the fountain in the sacristy to wash his hands when he noticed the man. Padre Pio looked at him with a penetrating gaze and then smiled at him. The man felt an instant connection. He could not explain it, but for some strange reason, it seemed as though Padre Pio had been expecting him.

Later on in the afternoon, the man saw Padre Pio again and was able to speak to him. “I do not believe in God,” the man said to Padre Pio. “That is not true,” Padre Pio replied. “There was a time when you did not believe in God. But that was in the past. As for now, you do believe.” Padre Pio then took the man to his cell and heard his confession. The man told Padre Pio that he did not know how to pray and Padre Pio gave him simple instructions in prayer. The man still felt a sense of guilt and shame over the sins of his past and he told Padre Pio so. “Do you think that St. Peter will want to know about this when you go to heaven?” Padre Pio asked. “Of course he will not!” Padre Pio added. He then gave the man a fatherly embrace. The darkness and the pain that had been in his heart for years, suddenly vanished. Unashamedly, he began to cry. When he left the monastery, he had one last coin in his pocket. He gave it to a beggar who was standing nearby. He was now completely penniless but ironically, he felt freer than he had in years.

When the man returned to Rome, he was faithful to attend Mass every Sunday with his wife and children. He asked for instruction and was taught how to use the Missal in order to follow the prayers and readings of the Mass. He still had many difficulties to face in his life, but he no longer felt hopeless. His new found faith gave him the light he needed to see each day to its completion and to give thanks to God for blessings received.

 

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Dr. Ezio Saltamerenda was the director of the Biotherapeutic Institute in Genoa, Italy. Ezio had been an atheist from the time he was a teenager. As the years passed, he felt an ever greater hostility toward religion and looked with disdain on people who believed in God. Ezio felt that it was his duty to convince people that religion was for the weak and feeble minded.

On one occasion, Ezio was introduced to an industrialist from Genoa, Mario Cavaliere. Mario happened to be a spiritual son of Padre Pio. In Mario’s office, Ezio noticed a photograph of Padre Pio on the desk. As he glanced at the photograph, he felt a strange tightness in his throat. Mario noticed Ezio staring at the photo and told him some brief facts about Padre Pio’s life.

Even though priests and clergymen were not people that Dr. Ezio admired or respected, the words that Mario spoke about Padre Pio made a deep impression on him. The next morning, he felt an overwhelming urge to meet Padre Pio. He could not understand where the desire was coming from but he felt powerless to resist it. He left for San Giovanni Rotondo that very evening.

When he arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he was told to wait for Padre Pio in the sacristy. When Padre Pio walked into the sacristy, Ezio felt the same tightness in his throat that he had felt when he saw Padre Pio’s picture for the first time. Suddenly, without having any idea why, Ezio felt like crying.

Ezio was informed that the only way he could speak to Padre Pio was if he made his confession to him. He decided to wait in the confessional line. When it was his turn, he explained to Padre Pio that he wanted to ask him for a blessing for a relative who was sick. He did not want to make his confession. Padre Pio had a severe expression on his face and said to him, “Do you ever think of the state of your soul?” “Yes, I do think of the state of my soul,” Ezio replied. Padre Pio then asked him what he believed the purpose of life was. “The purpose of life is the preservation of the species,” Ezio replied. Padre Pio told Ezio that his soul was in a dreadful state and then he asked him to leave the confessional. Ezio tried to stand up but for some strange reason he felt riveted to the ground. He was completely confused. Finally, he managed to leave the confessional.

Even though Ezio’s first encounter with Padre Pio had not gone well, he wanted to see him again. He wondered what the second encounter would be like. Fighting the fear in his heart, he gathered up his courage and returned the next day. He tried to be as inconspicuous as possible as he stood in the corridor among a group of men who were waiting for Padre Pio. When Padre Pio saw Ezio, he said to him, “Man from Genoa, you live near the seaside but you do not know how to wash. You have a dirty face!” Then he added, “You are a strong boat without a captain.” Once again, he asked him to leave.

All of the men who were waiting in line had heard Padre Pio’s words. Ezio felt the embarrassment of being humiliated in public. In his heart, he felt a great anguish. He went for a walk in an open field near the monastery. He tried to clear his mind and to think about what he should do next. He was hurt by Padre Pio’s coldness, but it only made him long with a greater intensity to be near him. He told one of the other Capuchins all that had happened. The Capuchin was very kind to Ezio and tried to encourage him. He took him to Padre Pio’s cell. As they entered the cell, Ezio became aware of the beautiful fragrance of violets. When Padre Pio saw Ezio, he told him to go downstairs and wait for him. He would come down soon to hear his confession.

Ezio made a sincere confession and he cried unashamedly throughout. Later he was to say that making his confession to Padre Pio was the most beautiful moment of his life. His previous encounters with Padre Pio had been painful, no doubt, but that was all in the past. After he received absolution, he spoke to Padre Pio from his heart and said, “I hope that the sorrow that I have felt for my sins and also my conversion to the faith has been of some consolation to you.” “My son,” Padre Pio replied lovingly, “Indeed, it has been a great consolation to me. God bless you always.” Later he told Ezio that he would always be with him in spirit.

Ezio had not been mistaken. Padre Pio had called him “my son.” Ezio’s heart was bursting with joy. When Dr. Ezio Saltamerenda returned to his home in Genoa, he was a changed man. It was the beginning of a completely different life for him, and he shared his new found faith with everyone.

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Giuseppe Minto of Milan, Italy was a Camilian friar of the Institute of St. Camillo of Alberoni. The members of his religious congregation cared for the sick and infirm. One of the sick patients that Giuseppe was assisting, spoke to him about Padre Pio and encouraged him to visit San Giovanni Rotondo.

Giuseppe was finally able to make the trip in March 1959. When he met Padre Pio and kissed his hand, he perceived a beautiful fragrance which he described as a mixture of roses, incense, and carbolic acid. He also had the opportunity to assist as altar server at Padre Pio’s Mass on several occasions. During the Mass, just before the Eucharistic prayer, as Giuseppe poured water over Padre Pio’s wounded hands, he felt immensely blessed.

After the Mass, Padre Pio made his thanksgiving behind a curtain. Giuseppe happened to look past the curtain and he was able to see Padre Pio clearly. In his hand, he had a large stack of letters from people requesting his prayers. Padre Pio’s lips were moving and he was gesturing as though he was talking to someone, but there was no one there. Giuseppe understood then that Padre Pio was speaking to God.

Giuseppe waited in the sacristy to make his confession to Padre Pio. He sat on a bench with many other men. Near him was an engineer, who was so frightened at the prospect of making his confession to Padre Pio that he was trembling. Giuseppe felt sorry for him and tried to say a word to console him. When the engineer’s turn came, he started to walk toward the confessional but was so overcome by emotion and fear that he fell to the floor. Padre Pio was very loving. He encouraged the man to step forward and he pointed him to the kneeler.

Once, when Giuseppe was making his confession to Padre Pio, he began speaking about something that was totally unrelated to the matter at hand. Padre Pio stopped him short. “There is no time to lose, my son,” Padre Pio said. He did not want to waste a minute. Before Giuseppe left San Giovanni Rotondo to return to Milan, he asked Padre Pio to give him a word to take back to the other priests and brothers in his religious congregation. “Say this to your brothers,” Padre Pio replied. “Let us sanctify ourselves and treat the sick well. Let us live well and we will bring upon ourselves the blessings of the Lord.”

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Romana Bianchi had been suffering from arthritis of the spine for several years. She was in constant pain and no medicine that the doctor prescribed brought her any relief. She spent most of her time in bed, hardly able to move. Romana had a husband and three children to care for but it became increasingly difficult for her to see to the needs of her family. She decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio and to ask him to pray that her health would be restored. She also had another special intention. Romana’s father-in-law lived in her household and their relationship was very strained. Romana hoped that they could resolve their problems so that peace would return to the home. It was a situation that needed prayer.

Romana traveled from her home in Gemona del Friuli in northeastern Italy to San Giovanni Rotondo. The year was 1963. In the confessional, Padre Pio asked Romana if she went to Mass on Sundays. She told him that she did not. Next, he asked her if she had gone to Mass on Easter Sunday. Again, she said no. Padre Pio became upset and raised his voice in disapproval.

Romana was not put off by Padre Pio’s strong words, nor was she intimidated by his sternness. She did what very few people had the courage to do. She spoke up to him. “Listen, I am desperate,” Romana said to Padre Pio. “If I was not desperate, I would never have traveled such a long distance from one end of Italy to the other in order to see you. I am here because I need help. My heart feels like ice. For a long time, I have been on the point of giving up completely. I have been so sick that I cannot even pray.”

Romana’s words caused Padre Pio’s attitude to soften. She continued with her confession. When she was finished, Padre Pio gave her absolution. When he said, “Go in peace,” a great peace filled Romana’s heart. She went back to Gemona del Friuli, healed in body and also in spirit. The chronic pain left her and never returned. She felt like her old self again. Not only that, her relationship with her father-in-law improved dramatically. Peace was restored to their relationship and she grew to have a deep affection for him. In the last years of his life, when he became bedridden, Romana cared for him lovingly and considered it a privilege.

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Probo Vaccarini traveled from his home in Rimini to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio. Eight of Probo’s friends asked him to speak to Padre Pio on their behalf. Probo decided that the best way to present his friends’ prayer petitions to Padre Pio was to write them out on a single piece of paper.

While making his confession to Padre Pio, Probo kept thinking about the note in his pocket with the petitions on it. He wondered when would be the appropriate time for him to talk to Padre Pio about his friends’ needs. Padre Pio noticed Probo’s restlessness. After Padre Pio gave him absolution, he said to him, “I want you to leave now!” “But wait,” Probo said. “Eight of my friends would like you to pray for their intentions. I have their names and their petitions which they have asked me to relay to you.” “You should not be thinking about your friends while you are in the confessional,” Padre Pio replied. “If you do not leave at once, I will.”

Padre Pio stood up and made a motion to leave. A strange feeling suddenly came over Probo. He felt rooted to his place. He could not move. He could not have left the confessional if he had wanted to. Padre Pio seemed to be aware of how uncomfortable Probo felt. He once again took his seat. “Go ahead and ask me what you want to regarding your friends,” Padre Pio said. Probo took the paper with the petitions on it out of his pocket. It was completely blank. “You must hurry,” Padre Pio said. “There are many other people who are waiting in line to make their confession. We do not have any time to lose.” “I don’t understand what happened,” Probo replied. “The paper that I wrote the petitions on is now blank!” He noticed that Padre Pio had a broad grin on his face.

Padre Pio then proceeded to make seven statements. Each statement was an accurate reference to the petitions of Probo’s seven friends. Probo wondered why Padre Pio had only addressed the needs of seven of his friends when it was actually eight who made the request. As it turned out, the person that Padre Pio omitted, had the opportunity to go to San Giovanni Rotondo and speak for himself.

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On one occasion, Padre Pio was in the choir loft of the church, making his thanksgiving after Mass. Brother Costantino approached him and told him that there was a man downstairs in the church who wanted to make his confession. He asked Padre Pio if it would be all right if he brought the man up to the choir loft so that he could make his confession. Padre Pio made no reply. Brother Costantino waited for a time and finally went back downstairs.

A few moments later Brother Costantino returned to the choir loft. “Padre Pio,” Brother Costantino said, “The man who wants to make his confession to you is still downstairs. He cannot wait any longer. He is a chauffeur and there are people calling for him to drive them to their destinations.” “That man has made the Lord wait for twenty-five years,” Padre Pio said. “He can wait five minutes for me to finish my prayers!”

Brother Costantino was not sure what Padre Pio was talking about. He went downstairs for the second time. The man was still standing in the corridor. “I have to leave now,” the man said impatiently. “I cannot wait a minute longer. Besides that, I am afraid to make my confession to Padre Pio.” “Why are you afraid?” Brother Costantino asked. “I am afraid because it has been twenty-five years since my last confession.”

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Umberto Iorio once traveled from Morcone to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to make his confession to Padre Pio. He was twenty-five years old. “Do you go to Mass?” Padre Pio asked. “I attend Mass once in awhile,” Umberto replied. “Why do you live in the desert?” Padre Pio asked him, referring to the way he was neglecting his spiritual life. “You must start going to Mass and then you can come back and I will hear your confession,” Padre Pio said.

Umberto got up casually from the kneeler. With a nonchalant attitude, he walked out of the confessional. From all appearances, he seemed to be completely indifferent to what Padre Pio had said to him. As soon as he left the church and walked out into the open air, he began to sob. As though a light had been turned on inside his mind, he suddenly understood the error of his ways. He felt a deep remorse. After that brief encounter with Padre Pio, Umberto never missed Mass again.

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Cornelia Zolezzi of Chiavari, Italy had a pressing problem in her life and took a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in hopes of speaking to Padre Pio about it. Cornelia owned an apartment in Chiavari and when she made a temporary move to Florence, she sublet her apartment to a woman whom she thought would be an ideal tenant. Later, when Cornelia was returning to Chiavari to take up residence, she gave the woman advanced notice to vacate the apartment. However, the woman refused to leave. Cornelia had no choice but to move back into her apartment while her tenant was still occupying it. It soon became an intolerable situation. Cornelia had no privacy and as time passed, she grew more and more unhappy about the situation.

At the time of Cornelia’s visit, people were not allowed to make their confession to Padre Pio if it had been less than a week since their last confession. There was sound logic behind the rule. Considering the ever-growing number of people who flocked to Padre Pio’s confessional, the long lines and the long wait became unmanageable.

Cornelia knew that she was breaking the rules when she stood in the women’s line for Padre Pio’s confessional. She had been to confession just a few days previously. However, she was so distraught about her living situation that she was willing to take her chances in order to speak to Padre Pio.

Cornelia walked into Padre Pio’s confessional and knelt down. “You are in the grace of God,” he said to her, indicating that she had recently made her confession and that all was well. He would not hear her confession. Cornelia was disappointed but there was nothing she could do.

When Cornelia returned to Chiavari, she was very surprised to find that her tenant had moved out of the apartment. One of the neighbors told Cornelia that a moving van had arrived in front of the apartment in the morning. After all of the woman’s furniture and personal belongings were loaded into the moving van, the driver and the woman left together. When Cornelia inquired as to the time that the woman left, her neighbor told her that she left at about 8:30 a.m. That was the same time that Cornelia had knelt before Padre Pio in the confessional.

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There was a man once who entered Padre Pio’s confessional and found it to be a very disheartening experience. The year was 1963. Padre Pio did not even permit the man to kneel down, but instead asked him to leave at once. The man felt insulted. He went to one of the other Capuchins and told him what had happened and how upset he was. “Padre Pio treated you that way because he cares about you,” the Capuchin told him. “He wants you to change your life and to save your soul.” The Capuchin then heard the man’s confession and gave him absolution. He counseled the man and told him that it was very important for him to get his life back on the spiritual track. He noticed that in many ways, the man’s ideas about religion were very shallow. He knew very little about his Catholic faith.

Unfortunately, the man did not heed the Capuchin’s advice and continued to live a sinful life. He betrayed his family’s trust and on many occasions was dishonest in his business practices. However, after meeting Padre Pio, something slowly started to change within him. He visited San Giovanni Rotondo on seven more occasions but always made sure that he kept a good distance from Padre Pio’s confessional. Once had been enough.

Through his visits to the monastery, the man learned of Padre Pio’s daily schedule. He knew that Padre Pio passed through the St. Francis hall each day after hearing the women’s confessions. One day, he had a great desire to see Padre Pio. He did not want to speak to him. He simply wanted to see him.

The man went to the St. Francis hall and stood in a corner so that he would not be noticed. He did not want to attract any attention to himself. Padre Pio soon came out of the elevator and entered the St. Francis hall. Although many people surrounded him, he kept his arms folded across his chest so that no one could kiss his hands.

The man was surprised to see that Padre Pio had spotted him standing in the corner and was staring at him. Padre Pio then walked directly over to him and stretched out his hand. The man was very happy for the opportunity to kiss Padre Pio’s hand. Padre Pio then blessed him. The man could not believe his good fortune.

One day, the man gathered enough courage to return to Padre Pio’s confessional. He spoke to Padre Pio from his heart. He told Padre Pio that he had been trying to overcome the sins in his life but had not been able to completely free himself from them. “But is that not repentance?” Padre Pio said to him lovingly. Padre Pio’s encouraging words filled the man with hope. He made a good confession and felt truly blessed to receive absolution from Padre Pio.

Whenever things go wrong, the first casualty is always hope. It is fragile, like rare cut glass. We can lose it so easily. St. Paul tells us that, for those who follow Christ, there is Someone who protects and saves our hope; the Father of Jesus. St. Paul tells us that our hope is safe with God. It is well beyond any damage that can be afflicted by human disaster or natural cataclysm. God truly holds our hope and guards it.

– Father Harry Cronin, C.S.C.

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 62 – January – March 2015

In Padre Pio’s presence, one felt that nothing on this earth was of any importance except one thing, to be in the grace of God.

 – Kathleen Thornton

 Padre Pio – Director of Souls – Part II

Download Newsletter Issue 62 January – March 2015

#62-1-LowRes 001smPadre Pio’s fame as a confessor drew immense crowds to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. As the crowds grew larger, Padre Pio, by necessity, became more inaccessible to the pilgrims. Outside of the confessional, it was almost impossible for a person to be able to have a conversation with him. Once, one of his spiritual daughters complained to him about the lack of time he had to give her in the confessional. He said to her, “I have spoken to you for many years. Now I ask you to put into practice those things that I have told you to do.”

As a confessor, Padre Pio wanted people to understand the seriousness of sin. “We have a greater fear of mortal sin than of fire,” Padre Pio once said. On another occasion he said, “Beware of sin as of a poisonous viper.” When penitents put questions to him regarding moral issues, his answers left no doubt as to the difference between right and wrong and the proper course to follow. One man said, “Padre Pio’s words were firm, candid and pure.” A man once confessed to him that he had thoughts against chastity. “How many times have you had those thoughts?” Padre Pio asked. “Six or seven times,” the man replied. “But seven is not the same as six because it means one more deadly sin,” Padre Pio answered.

Padre Pio had a great fear of offending God and was ready to go to any length to avoid doing so. He had no illusions about human nature. He said, “As long as there remains a drop of blood in our bodies, there will always be a struggle between right and wrong.” Looking back on his life, he once said, “Temptations that concern my secular life are those that most upset me . . . They bring on a cold sweat and make me tremble . . . In those moments, all I can do is cry.”

In 1915, Padre Pio wrote to Father Agostino:

The thought of going astray and . . . offending God fills me with terror. It paralyzes my limbs, and both body and soul feel as if they are being squeezed in a powerful vise. My bones feel as if they are being dislocated . . . crushed and ground up.

The general opinion was that making one’s confession to Padre Pio was of profound spiritual benefit. Nevertheless, to confess to Padre Pio was not an easy task for most. As one person described it, “To go to confession to Padre Pio was to allow him to look right inside your soul.” As a confessor, he was strict and demanding. He had great moral strength in directing souls and he did not hesitate to tell the penitents what they needed to do in order to change their lives. He often told people what they did not want to hear. He had a strong character and was afraid of no one. Many people wanted to make their confession to him but were held back by their fear. One man stated, “It is less frightening to take a difficult examination at the university than to make one’s confession to Padre Pio.”

In the confessional, Padre Pio did not want people to make excuses for their sins and omissions. A woman from Gioia del Colle, Italy visited Padre Pio on one occasion. During her confession, she said that she missed Mass the previous Sunday because of the rain. “Yes, but when you left to come to San Giovanni Rotondo, it was raining too,” Padre Pio replied. “You must never miss Mass again on Sunday unless illness prevents you from attending,” he added.

A photo of the confessional used by Padre Pio in the early days.

A photo of the confessional used by Padre Pio in the early days.

An atheist was once introduced to Padre Pio and the visit resulted in the man’s conversion. He said, “I went to see Padre Pio when I had a thousand reasons for not believing in God. With great delicacy, little by little, he led me back to the faith and gave me the moral stability I lacked.”

Padre Pio attached enormous importance to the frequent reception of the sacrament of confession. He used to say, “Even if a room is sealed off completely, dust will still accumulate in it.” Padre Pio practiced what he advocated to others. He went to confession frequently. Before making his confession, he prayed deeply and sought the intercession of the Virgin Mary. He always felt a great remorse for his sins and often cried when making his confession. To Father Benedetto, who was his spiritual director for twelve years, Padre Pio wrote, “I am seeking the amendment of my life, my spiritual resurrection, true and substantial love, the sincere conversion of my whole self to Him.”

Mr. Livio Dimatteo met Padre Pio in 1959. On one occasion, Livio had been undergoing a strong temptation which he was convinced was, “from the devil.” Because of it, he was afraid to make his confession to Padre Pio. When he finally gathered up the courage and entered Padre Pio’s confessional, Padre Pio placed his hand, much harder than usual, on Livio’s head. Livio was certain that Padre Pio knew all about the temptation and would assist him through his prayers.

One man who had initially been denied absolution by Padre Pio stated that Padre Pio was the only person who had been able to help him break away from his destructive lifestyle. “Thanks to Padre Pio, I was able to understand the gravity of my sins,” the man said. Previously, the man had always justified his immoral conduct and had no desire to change. People tried to show him the error of his ways but nothing that anyone said made a difference to him. The shock of being denied absolution by Padre Pio caused the him to reflect on his life. He made a good examination of conscience and later made a sincere confession and received absolution.

When twelve-year-old Mariella Lotti of Cosenza approached Padre Pio’s confessional, his words startled her. “If I heard your confession right now, we would get nowhere. You are not prepared to make your confession at this time,” Padre Pio said. Mariella, as well as her parents, felt offended, but when Padre Pio gave a further explanation for his actions, they not only understood, they agreed with him. It proved to be a turning point in young Mariella’s life. Another young woman wanted to make her confession to Padre Pio but she was not willing to make the needed changes in her life. Padre Pio spoke of her and said, “She is just like coal. When exposed, it stains. When lit, it burns.”

Padre Pio prayed continually for the salvation of all people. To a woman who was in great need he said, “Rest assured that I will pray for you. Even after my death I will remember you in my prayers.” To another he said, “You must understand the responsibility I have assumed before Jesus for you. If something bad should happen to you which is to your spiritual detriment, Jesus will ask me to account for it directly.” To a woman who asked him how often she could write to him, he responded, “Write to me whenever you have the desire or the need. In me, you will always find a father.”

Antonio Monari had a remarkable experience the first time he entered Padre Pio’s confessional. Antonio stated:

I was expecting to see a saint but I never imagined I would experience what I did. I told Padre Pio the many troubles of my family and myself and he listened paternally. I asked him for a grace for which I had waited many years for in vain. “Men can do nothing my son,” Padre Pio said and he pointed upward. “Only God who is above can help us. I will pray for you,” he added. He then gave me his blessing. I cannot describe to you the feeling of profound emotion I felt, so much so that when I got up, I lost my balance. He touched me affectionately on the right side of my head. My right ear, in which I was completely deaf, suddenly opened and I have been able to hear perfectly ever since.

In the confessional, people frequently asked Padre Pio for his counsel regarding family situations, vocational choices, business concerns, health issues, and even advice on farming matters. He was glad if he could help people on any level, but above all else, his desire was to help people on a spiritual level. He wanted people to realize their need for God. Professor Michael Melillo, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons, once said to Padre Pio, “Father, please give me some spiritual advice that I can use for my whole life.” Padre Pio answered him and said, “You have been born to know, to love and to serve God, and to be happy with him eternally in heaven.”

Capuchin Father Ruggero observed that many of the pilgrims who greeted Padre Pio handed him personal letters which contained their prayer requests. It seemed impossible for Padre Pio to read all the letters that he received. Father Ruggero wondered how he could find the time to pray for so many people. He asked Padre Pio how he could keep up with the task. Padre Pio touched his hand to his heart and said, “This is where they all pass. They are all here in my heart.”

Padre Pio insisted that people dress modestly whenever entering the church to attend Mass or to make their confession. To many, his standards of modesty were considered to be extreme. As time passed, Padre Pio became even stricter regarding church attire. One priest, who knew of Padre Pio’s rigid standards, told him that he could not insist on such a strict dress code in his parish because he feared that the members of his congregation would become angry and quit. “An empty church is better than a profaned one,” Padre Pio replied.

There was once a lady from Germany who made her confession to Padre Pio. She was fluent in Italian and was planning to make her confession in Italian. Before she could say even one word, Padre Pio began speaking to her in German. She noticed that his accent was perfect. Sometime later, she saw Padre Pio again. She spoke to him in German but he made no reply. She spoke to him a second time in German. He said nothing. Finally, she spoke to him in Italian and said, “Padre Pio, you spoke so well with me in German in the confessional. Why is it that you will not do so now?” “Oh,” he replied. “Confession is a completely different matter.”

Padre Pio’s fidelity to his priestly ministry as a confessor was revealed to Dr. Filippo Pancaro on one occasion. Dr. Pancaro, who was on staff at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, once gave Padre Pio a thorough physical examination. Besides having a high fever, Padre Pio also complained of dizziness, weakness, and a disturbing ringing in his ears. His exhaustion at the time was so great that he could hardly stand on his feet. Dr. Pancaro told Padre Pio that he needed to rest more in order to regain his strength. He advised him to discontinue hearing the evening confessions for a while.

Padre Pio was very disappointed at the doctor’s words. “If that is an order, I will do it,” Padre Pio said. “But only if it is an order. I do not want to cut back on hearing confessions.” Padre Pio then asked the doctor for his prayers. “I ask you to pray for me to the Virgin Mary,” Padre Pio said. “Pray that my health will be restored.” Dr. Pancaro assured him that he would do so. Padre Pio told the doctor that if he had a choice between losing his sight or his hearing, he would prefer to lose his sight. “As long as I have my hearing, I will always be able to continue to hear confessions,” he said. He once told Father Agostino that he would prefer to be taken to the confessional in a wheelchair rather than to stop hearing confessions.

Several hours before he died, Padre Pio asked the priest who was assisting him, Father Pellegrino Funicelli, to hear his confession. After making his confession, he said to Father Pellegrino, “Ask all my brothers to forgive me for all of the trouble I have caused them. If the Lord should call me tonight, please ask all of my spiritual children to say a prayer for my soul.”

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Gina Deiana was engaged to be married and was looking forward to the day of her wedding with great anticipation. Two months before the wedding, her fiancé broke up with her. He did not have the courtesy to speak to Gina in person about his decision or even to call her on the telephone. He simply left her a short note indicating that their relationship was over. Gina was devastated by his actions and sunk into a deep depression. Her sadness became so overwhelming that she lost all joy in living.

Soon after the break up, Gina happened to read an article about Padre Pio in a magazine. She had a strong desire to visit Padre Pio and so she invited her aunt to make the trip with her to San Giovanni Rotondo. They left from their home in Genova, and arrived at Padre Pio’s monastery two days later. The year was 1952. They felt fortunate to book a room in the one and only hotel in the town.

The following morning, Gina and her aunt attended Padre Pio’s early Mass. Later that day, a woman whom Gina had never seen before, approached her and said, “You are the girl whose fiancé broke up with her. Am I right about that?” “But how did you know?” Gina asked. “Padre Pio told me about you,” the woman answered. “He wants you to stay here in San Giovanni Rotondo longer than you had intended to. Also, he would like to speak to you.” “But our funds are very limited. We cannot afford to stay any longer than planned,” Gina said. “Don’t give it another thought. I will be happy to lend you the money,” the woman replied. The woman’s name was Angelina Serritelli. She was one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters and she went to great lengths to assist him in any way that she could.

Gina was amazed by her conversation with Angelina Serritelli. She and her aunt were strangers in the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo. No one but Gina’s mother knew about their trip. But Padre Pio obviously knew that Gina was there. He had sent Angelina to greet her. Gina called her mother in Genova and told her that she and her aunt would be staying longer than they had anticipated.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, Gina was able to make her confession to Padre Pio. During the confession, she told Padre Pio that her fiancé had abandoned her and that she was very depressed. Although she had made an effort to get over the traumatic incident, she had not succeeded. She told Padre Pio that she had stopped receiving Holy Communion because she had been so upset.

In a fatherly way, Padre Pio counseled Gina. “Be calm,” he said. “You must try to stop thinking about your fiancé and how he betrayed you. He was not worthy of you.” Gina felt at peace for the first time in a very long time. Padre Pio spoke to her with great tenderness, almost making light of the sins that she confessed. He then gave her a picture of Jesus. On the back of the picture, he had written the words, “Let Jesus be the center of all your aspirations.” After making her confession to Padre Pio, Gina was able to put the past behind her and move forward in life.

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Guido Biondi visited San Giovanni Rotondo and made his confession to Padre Pio for the first time in 1956. In the confessional, Padre Pio asked Guido if he attended Mass on Sundays. Guido replied that he went to Mass once in awhile. “Then you must leave,” Padre Pio told him. “Come back in one month and I will hear your confession at that time,” Padre Pio added. Guido was angry when he rose from his kneeling position. He could hardly wait to get out of the confessional. He felt indignant and humiliated that Padre Pio had dismissed him in such a rough way. When he walked out of the church, he immediately went to the bus stop in order to catch the first bus that was leaving for Foggia.

On the bus trip to Foggia, Guido’s anger began to subside. As he thought about what had transpired in the confessional, he became more objective. He was able to understand why Padre Pio had spoken to him the way he had. Guido took stock of his life, and for the first time, he felt guilty about many of the actions of his past. He had turned his back on God and in doing so, he had lost his way. He suddenly felt the crushing burden of his many sins.

After Guido returned to his home, he went over every detail of his brief encounter with Padre Pio. He wanted with his whole heart to speak to Padre Pio again but he felt too embarrassed to do so. Padre Pio had rejected him and he did not feel that he could ever face him again.

Guido had a very good job in the automobile industry where he was supervisor to more than one hundred employees. Back at work, he found it difficult to concentrate. He began to lose weight and his health deteriorated. He neglected his responsibilities at work. One day, he had great difficulty breathing. His body was wracked with pain. He prayed to Padre Pio and at once his painful symptoms disappeared. The answered prayer from Padre Pio gave him the courage to make a return trip to San Giovanni Rotondo.

At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Guido noticed a Capuchin who greeted five men that were standing nearby. The Capuchin motioned for the men to follow him. What seemed to be a force outside himself impelled Guido to join the group of five men. They followed the Capuchin up some stairs and then down a long and narrow corridor. Suddenly, they were standing in front of Padre Pio’s cell. They knocked on the door and heard a loud voice inviting them to come in. Guido was the last one to enter Padre Pio’s cell.

Padre Pio greeted the men and asked them for an update regarding someone who was ill. Guido understood then that the five men he had followed into Padre Pio’s cell were all doctors. They worked at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. One of the doctors spoke to Padre Pio at length about the individual who was ill. After the doctors conversed with Padre Pio for a while, one by one, they kissed his hand and then left. Guido was suddenly standing all alone with Padre Pio. Fear gripped his heart. Padre Pio smiled at him and offered him his hand. Very moved, Guido kissed Padre Pio’s hand and then left.

Those few moments with Padre Pio had made a remarkable impression on Guido. He knew that it was no accident that he had followed the five doctors to Padre Pio’s cell. He was certain that it had been arranged by Divine Providence. That very evening, Guido had an opportunity to make his confession to Padre Pio. He no longer felt afraid. He was able to make a sincere confession. Padre Pio was very kind to him. He blessed him and gave him absolution. When Guido rose to his feet, he felt purified and immensely happy.

Guido’s friend had been waiting for him in the little square just outside. When Guido left the confessional, he could hardly contain himself. He ran out of the church and with great joy, he began to shout to his friend, “He has absolved me, he has absolved me!”

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Italian-born Dino Segre was a well-known and highly esteemed author. He took the name Pitigrilli as his signature name for all of his published works. Dino was talented and successful and had more money than he could spend. Although he was not religious, as time passed, Dino began to think more and more about the deeper meaning of life. In the process, his interest in spirituality gradually began to grow.

At the advice of a friend, Dino decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Dino was famous throughout Italy but while he was visiting the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he wanted to remain completely anonymous. He hoped that no one would recognize him. On the morning that he attended Padre Pio’s Mass, he sat in the very back of the church and tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

During the Mass, when Padre Pio prayed for the living and the deceased, he spoke to the congregation and said, “Pray, brethren. Pray with your whole hearts for someone who is here with us today, someone who is in great need of our prayers. One day he will receive Holy Communion at the Lord’s table. He will be instrumental in bringing others with him back to the Church, others who have lived without God, just like he has.”

Dino was thunderstruck by Padre Pio’s words. He was certain that Padre Pio was speaking about him. There was not a doubt in his mind. Dino felt as though his heart was breaking. He began to cry. Try as he might, it was impossible for him to stop the flood of tears.

After the Mass, Dino had an opportunity to make his confession to Padre Pio. The moment he knelt down in the confessional, Padre Pio quoted from scripture and said to him, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Of course, Dino knew the answer to the question. It profited a man nothing. Padre Pio was obviously speaking about the worldly life that Dino had been leading for many years. Padre Pio then said to him, “The Lord has been very good to you.”

The encounter with Padre Pio marked a turning point in the life of Dino Segre. After he left San Giovanni Rotondo, he went to his publisher and insisted that certain books he had written be permanently taken off the market. He was aware that his decision would cause him to incur a great financial loss, but he didn’t care. He knew that Padre Pio set a very high moral and spiritual standard. With all his heart, he wanted his literary works to reflect that standard. For the rest of his life, he wrote only books that had a Christian theme, books that would help encourage others in the practice of their faith.

 

I have been meditating on the story of the prodigal son. It is a story about returning. I realize the importance of returning over and over again. My life drifts away from God. I have to return. My heart moves away from my first love. I have to return. My mind wanders to strange images. I have to return. Returning is a lifelong struggle….God’s love does not require any explanations about why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to give us all we desire, just for being home. . .so why delay? God is standing there with open arms, waiting to embrace me. He won’t ask any questions about my past. Just having me back is all he desires.

– Henri Nouwen

Padre Pio Devotions – Books
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book I
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II

by Diane Allen and available from amazon.com

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 61 – October-December 2014

Padre Pio – Director of Souls

Download Newsletter Issue 61 October – December 2014

Pio Abresch

Twelve-year-old Pio Abresch (right) assists Padre Pio at Mass. Padre Pio predicted that young Pio would one day become a priest.

Padre Pio, in his lifetime, reconciled innumerable souls back to God through the sacrament of confession. He was always in great demand as a confessor. People were willing to wait many days and brave any inconvenience in order to make their confession to him. In the early days, before there were accommodations for the pilgrims, the men who waited to make their confession to Padre Pio would sometimes sleep at night in the fields near the monastery. Some would even pitch tents in the open areas. When the sun rose, they would resume their place in the confessional line.

For years, Padre Pio spent the greater part of each day in the confessional. It was for this reason that he was often spoken of as a “martyr of the confessional.” Pope Pius XII referred to Padre Pio as the “confessor of Europe.” Once, Archbishop Andrea Cesarano of Manfredonia and Pope Pius XII were talking together about Padre Pio. “What does Padre Pio do?” the pope asked. “Your Holiness,” Archbishop Cesarano replied, “He takes away the sins of the world.”

Padre Pio had a true understanding of human weakness and was willing to go to great lengths to help a person. However, if a person was not sorry for his sins, Padre Pio did not feel that he could do much for that individual. He recommended to some individuals that they go to one of the other Capuchins to make their confession, rather than to him, without explaining the reason why. When he sent people out of the confessional because they were not adequately prepared to make their confession, it weighed on him. “If you could only understand how I suffer when I have to refuse absolution,” Padre Pio said. “But it is better to be criticized by a man in this life than by God in the next life.” He never advocated that other priests adopt his unconventional methods. “What I do, you cannot do,” he once said to a fellow priest.

Angelo Battisti, an administrator at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, knew that Padre Pio spent long hours praying for the intentions of his spiritual children. Angelo once offered a suggestion to Padre Pio. “It is far too time-consuming for you to pray for people on an individual basis,” Angelo said. “There are just too many people who are requesting your prayers. Why don’t you pray for the people in general rather than individually? It would save you a lot of time.” “I cannot do that,” Padre Pio replied. “I must present their needs to God, one at a time.”

The Lord endowed Padre Pio with extraordinary spiritual charisms for his ministry in the confessional. He was given the gift of reading hearts and of infused knowledge. These gifts were present even in the early days of his priesthood. In 1921, Padre Pio wrote a letter to Father Agostino and explained that the knowledge he possessed “came down from above,” indicating that it was given to him by God. To Cleonice Morcaldi, the daughter of the mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio said, “I see you inside and out, just like you see yourself in a mirror.”

During World War II, an American soldier had the opportunity to make a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo. At the monastery, he was not able to make his confession to Padre Pio because he did not speak Italian. Instead, he was directed to the confessional of a priest who was hearing confessions in English. As the soldier passed through the sacristy, he saw Padre Pio for the first time. Padre Pio stared at the young American with deep concentration. During those moments, the soldier became aware that his mind was being healed. He could feel a definite change in his thought patterns, a complete shift in his usual way of thinking.

Father Nello Castello of Padua, Italy, went to confession to Padre Pio on numerous occasions. Father Castello described confession to Padre Pio as both “jolting and enlightening.” He said, “Padre Pio gave me counsel that reflected the whole range of my existence, past and future. At times he would surprise me with suggestions unconnected with the sins I confessed. But later, events made it clear that his counsels had been prophetic. Padre Pio knew my problems better than I did.”

One woman who made her confession to Padre Pio was plagued with personal problems that were almost overwhelming. Padre Pio said to her, “You must not be anxious or worried about anything because I am here with you.” To another who was undergoing severe trials he said, “Unite yourself to my prayers.” To the penitents, Padre Pio was a confidant, a friend, a counselor and above all a father. People could feel his concern and his loving care. He said to Monsignor Giancarlo Setti, whom he asked to oversee the Padre Pio prayer groups worldwide, “Monsignor, you look after the prayer groups and I will look after your soul.”

Many people testified that their encounter with Padre Pio in the confessional brought them back to a state of inward peace. To a woman who felt intense sorrow because of the death of her child, Padre Pio said, “I want you to know that your child has gone to a place where there is no more pain, no more suffering. That should be a great consolation to you.” And indeed, his words were truly a great consolation to the woman.

Father Vincenzo of Casacalenda wrote:

Padre Pio was always at our disposal. Even when we could not get near him because of the crowds, it was enough for us to turn our thoughts to him. We felt him standing by us, not only protectively but so many times also tangibly, through the prodigious perfume of sanctity which we were conscious of.

He always stood by us both materially and spiritually. He accepted all our requests, met all our anxieties, listened to all our sins. He took upon himself all our miseries as if they were his own, to such an extent that he sometimes lamented, “I can’t go on any more.” This humble confession of the heaviness of his cross, moves and comforts us at the same time. His was an endless love.

Father Vincenzo also made mention of Padre Pio’s gift of reading hearts. He said, “I was afraid of Padre Pio’s gaze – a gaze which searched you. And yet, it was not a hard gaze; no, it was a sweet one. When he looked at you, he stripped you. If Padre Pio looked at you and smiled, you felt you had received a blessing. If he did not look at you, you were afraid.”

Padre Pio knew that being a minister of the sacrament of reconciliation was a great responsibility. The responsibility often weighed heavily on him. He once said to Capuchin Father Domenico Laballarte, “In the confessional we dispense the blood of Christ. Be careful not to pour out such precious blood too easily or too lightly.”

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German-born Friedrich Abresch lived in Bologna, Italy where he worked as a professional photographer. He converted to Catholicism in order to please his fiancé, Amalia, who was a Catholic. Friedrich was a Catholic in name only. He did not have faith in the teachings of the Church. He rarely went to Mass and as time passed he began to feel a great antipathy for anything that had to do with Catholicism. Later, he took up the study of spiritualism, occultism, and magic.

When Friedrich learned about Padre Pio, his curiosity was aroused. He was fascinated by the stories of the miracles and healings associated with Padre Pio and wanted to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to meet him. In Friedrich’s mind, the only negative factor was that Padre Pio was a Catholic. Could these obvious manifestations of God’s power really be coming from a Catholic priest? Friedrich wondered how it could be possible.

Mr. Abresch

Mr. Friedrich Abresch

Friedrich was finally able to make the trip to see Padre Pio in 1925. He was twenty-eight years old. When he arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio greeted him, but was by no means cordial. He only made a few rather cold remarks. Friedrich had traveled a long distance from Bologna to the little town of San Giovanni Rotondo and was somehow expecting a friendlier reception.

Later, when Friedrich made his confession to Padre Pio, Padre Pio told him that in his previous confessions, he had withheld serious sins from his confessor. His words, which were true, shocked Friedrich. He wondered how Padre Pio could have known. Padre Pio then asked Friedrich if his previous confessions had been made in good faith. He answered that they had not. Friedrich told Padre Pio that he did not believe in the sacrament of confession. Although he felt that it was a useful psychological and social tool, he did not believe that it could impart grace. However, Friedrich had been deeply moved by his few moments with Padre Pio and by the fact that Padre Pio could see into the secret depth of his soul. “I did not believe in the sacrament of confession before,” Friedrich said to Padre Pio. “But now suddenly, by talking with you, I believe in it,” he added.

As though in great pain, Padre Pio told Friedrich that his beliefs were all heresies. He added that all of his past communions had been sacrilegious. “Make a good examination of conscience,” Padre Pio said. “Try to remember when you last made a sincere confession. You must make a general confession.” He told Friedrich that he would hear his confession later in the day. “Jesus has been more merciful to you than he was to Judas!” Padre Pio said. He then left Friedrich in the sacristy and went to hear the women’s confessions.

Friedrich felt shaken to his roots by his contact with Padre Pio. He also felt dazed and confused. He tried to gather his thoughts together but he could not seem to concentrate. He made a supreme effort to recall the last time he made a sincere confession. Try as he might, he could not remember. He tried to focus his mind and make an examination of conscience so that he would be prepared to make a general confession.

Friedrich decided that he would tell Padre Pio that he had been a Lutheran before converting to Catholicism. He would explain that he had been conditionally baptized into the Catholic Church. At that time, all of his sins were forgiven. He would begin his confession by talking about his childhood.

When Friedrich knelt before Padre Pio once again in the confessional, before he could finish his first sentence, Padre Pio interrupted him. “When did you make your last good confession?” Padre Pio asked. Friedrich was not sure if he had ever made a good confession. He told Padre Pio that he could not remember. Padre Pio then reminded him of the time, adding some of the particulars of that confession. It took place shortly after Friedrich was married. That confession had long slipped from his memory but he realized that Padre Pio was right. “Begin your confession from the time I have just mentioned,” Padre Pio said. Friedrich was astonished that Padre Pio had such detailed knowledge of the events of his past life. He realized that he had come in contact with the supernatural.

Padre Pio then enumerated all of Friedrich’s mortal sins by asking him questions about those very sins. He was even able to state the number of times he had neglected to go to Mass. Everything was laid bare before Friedrich’s eyes. He made Friedrich understand the gravity of the state of his soul. “You have launched a hymn to Satan, whereas Jesus, in his tremendous love, has broken himself for you,” Padre Pio said. He then gave Friedrich a penance. When Padre Pio pronounced the words of absolution, Friedrich found it hard to breathe. He felt like he was suffocating. But after he left the confessional, his joy was so great that he could hardly contain himself.

From that day forward, Friedrich attended Mass every day. Friedrich later prepared a written testimony stating that he believed, not only in all of the dogmas and precepts of the Catholic Church, but also in all of the Church’s traditions and ceremonies, even down to the smallest detail. He stated that his faith was so strong that no one would ever be able to shake it. He would prefer to lose his life rather than his faith.

Friedrich had a great desire to be near Padre Pio. He and Amalia decided to move from their home in Bologna to San Giovanni Rotondo. There, they became active members of the Third Order of St. Francis. They were very happy living close to Padre Pio and participating in the spiritual life of the church of Our Lady of Grace.

One day, while in the church of Our Lady of Grace, Friedrich took some photographs of Padre Pio during the celebration of the Mass. He had not asked permission to do so. Much to Friedrich’s surprise, the photos all turned out blank. The next time he wanted to take a photograph of Padre Pio, he asked for his permission. Padre Pio was strongly opposed to the idea and would not agree to it. But Friedrich was persistent. He asked the Capuchin superior for permission and he gave his consent. Padre Pio submitted out of obedience to his superior but he still resisted the idea. When Padre Pio was told that the photos were a consolation to many people, he finally became more accepting. Friedrich became Padre Pio’s official photographer and left a number of exceptional photographs of him to posterity.

In honor of their spiritual father, when Amalia and Friedrich welcomed their newborn son into the world, they named him Pio. Both Friedrich and his son Pio, served Padre Pio’s Mass on many occasions. Padre Pio predicted that Pio Abresch would one day become a priest and would have a high position in the Church. His prophecy came true. Pio Abresch was ordained to the priesthood in 1956. Monsignor Pio Abresch was sent to Rome and was assigned to work at the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican. Friedrich Abresch died in August 1969, almost one year after the death of Padre Pio.

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Biagio Fusco saw Padre Pio for the first time in 1919. Some of his relatives had urged him to make the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo and he also felt motivated by a certain sense of curiosity regarding Padre Pio. He happened to arrive at the monastery just as Padre Pio had begun to say Mass. During the Mass, Biagio began to think about how far he had drifted from his faith. His moral and spiritual life had been on the downhill slide for a long time. He was so moved by Padre Pio’s Mass that he felt suddenly inspired to change his life and to return to the sacraments. Biagio was also able to make his confession to Padre Pio. The church and the confessional were very crowded that day. The Italian state police (the Carabenieri) were present to maintain order in the church.

After Biagio returned to his home, he continued to think about Padre Pio. Before his visit to Padre Pio, nothing could motivate him to change his life. He was attached to his sins and did not have the will or the desire to change. But the short visit to Padre Pio produced a radical transformation in his life. Sometimes Biagio noticed the unexplainable scent of violets, roses, and incense in the air. He felt it was a sign that Padre Pio was trying to encourage him to sustain his faith in its first steps.

Several years later, Biagio returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace and was able once again to make his confession to Padre Pio. When Biagio confessed a particular sin, Padre Pio interrupted him and said, “You confessed that sin two years ago. You are a backslider.” Biagio knew that Padre Pio heard confessions day in and day out, for many hours a day. He was astonished that Padre Pio was able to remember what he had confessed to him in the past.

The next time Biagio visited San Giovanni Rotondo, he had a very important matter to discuss with Padre Pio. In the confessional, he explained to Padre Pio that he would soon be taking an examination for a teaching position. He had been trying for four years to obtain a job as a teacher, to no avail. Biagio asked Padre Pio to pray that he would pass the test and also to pray that he would secure a job. Biagio had a wife and six children to support and he constantly worried about his precarious financial situation. As Biagio was telling Padre Pio about the upcoming test, Padre Pio raised his eyes upward. His face became serene and beautiful. As Biagio gazed at him, he was convinced that all would be well.

Shortly after that, Biagio received a letter in the mail which offered him a teaching position in a nearby town. The letter was dated July 27, 1923, the same date that he had made his confession to Padre Pio and had requested his prayers. With great joy and thanksgiving in his heart, Biagio accepted the teaching position.

Biagio went to the school board in order to negotiate for the school that he wanted to work at. The board member who met with him told him how fortunate he was. “Jobs these days are extremely scarce,” he said. “You are indeed very lucky to have been hired. It is almost like a miracle!” At his words, the air became filled with a strong perfume. Biagio knew at that moment that Padre Pio was present and was interceding for him. Biagio was assigned to work at the school of his choice and after a short time the job became permanent.

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Eighteen-year-old Andre Mandato attended Mass every Sunday without fail. Even so, he only went to confession once in a great while. To Andre, it did not seem necessary. He never had any serious sins to confess or any pressing problems that he needed to discuss with a priest. But more important, he lacked faith in the value of confession. He knew very well that the Church taught that the sacrament of reconciliation imparted sanctifying grace to the penitent. However, in his heart, Andre was not convinced that it was true. Andre’s attitude underwent a complete change when he made his confession to Padre Pio for the first time.

Andre was very surprised in the confessional when Padre Pio began to name his sins. “You use bad language; you swear,” Padre Pio said to Andre. “It is true,” Andre replied. There was no denying the fact. “You know in your heart that it is wrong,” Padre Pio said. “You swear and then you ask God for forgiveness. But simply asking God for forgiveness is not enough.”

Padre Pio’s words shocked Andre. He had always believed that asking God for forgiveness was enough. But as he reflected on it, he was able to grasp what Padre Pio was trying to convey to him. If a person asked forgiveness of God for a sin that was committed, that person should make a supreme effort never to commit the sin again. Unfortunately, that was not always the case. In Andre’s life, it was not the case. Andre was suddenly able to understand the true malice of sin, and the seriousness of offending God.

When Andre left the confessional, he felt crushed. He began to cry and was unable to stop. The confession to Padre Pio marked a true turning point in his life and brought about a great spiritual change within him.

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When Dr. Remo Vincenti and his son visited San Giovanni Rotondo, his son obtained a ticket from the booking office so that he could make his confession to Padre Pio. When his son’s ticket number was close to being called, Remo suddenly realized that there was a problem. Padre Pio did not hear confessions if it was less than ten days since a person’s last confession and just a few days before, Remo’s son had gone to confession. Remo advised his son to stay in the line anyway and to take his chances. Perhaps Padre Pio would make an exception to the rule. In the meantime, Remo prayed with great intensity, “Padre Pio, please hear my son’s confession. Do it out of love for the Blessed Virgin. Don’t send him away. Please!”

In the end, everything worked out perfectly and Remo was very happy that his son was able to make his confession to Padre Pio. Before Remo and his son left the monastery to return to their home in Terni, Italy, they went to say goodbye to Padre Pio. When Padre Pio caught sight of Remo, his face brightened. Before Remo had a chance to utter a single word, Padre Pio said to him, “I would have done it out of love for you.” Words to treasure! He had prayed that Padre Pio hear his son’s confession out of his love for the Virgin Mary. But Padre Pio assured Remo that his love for him was very great, and because of that love, he had answered Remo’s heartfelt prayer.

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Monsignor John Gannon had a great devotion to Padre Pio and visited him in San Giovanni Rotondo on a number of occasions. Padre Pio always referred to him as the “American Monsignor.” Monsignor Gannon spoke to Padre Pio’s assistant, Father Eusebio Notte and said, “There must be many American priests whom Padre Pio refers to as the “American Monsignor.” “No, you are the only one he refers to in that way,” Father Eusebio replied.

Once, Monsignor Gannon was speaking with some friends at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. Suddenly, a man approached the group with a ticket for Padre Pio’s confessional in his hand. “I am not going to be able to use this ticket,” the man said. “Would any of you like to have it?” “You should give it to Monsignor Gannon,” a man in the group replied. Monsignor Gannon now had a ticket for Padre Pio’s confessional, but he had a problem. He could not speak Italian and Padre Pio did not hear confessions in English. One of Monsignor’s friends who spoke Italian offered to help him. He told him to write out his confession and he would translate it into the Italian dialect that Padre Pio spoke. Monsignor Gannon was very grateful for the help.

Monsignor Gannon practiced making his confession in Italian until he felt confident that Padre Pio would be able to understand him. In the confessional, Monsignor began to read from the paper that his friend had transcribed for him. When he got half way through his confession, Padre Pio suddenly interrupted him. He repeated what was on the rest of the paper, word for word. Monsignor Gannon knew that it was impossible for Padre Pio to see what was written on the paper that he had in his hand. He could hardly believe what had happened.

Monsignor Gannon remained close to Padre Pio through the years. In 1962, he received a letter from Father Eusebio Notte. In the letter, Father Eusebio told Monsignor Gannon that Padre Pio faithfully remembered him before the Lord, especially during Mass. “Padre Pio said that you are his spiritual child,” Father Eusebio wrote. “You belong to him and he has some rights on you. He does not forget you in his prayers and he does not want you to forget him.”

 

When disturbed by passions and misfortunes, may the sweet hope of His inexhaustible mercy sustain us. Let us hasten confidently to the tribunal of penance where He awaits us at every instant with the anxiety of a father, and even though we are aware of our inability to repay Him, let us have no doubts about the solemn pardon pronounced over our errors. Let us place a tombstone over them, just as the Lord has done.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 60 – July – September – 2014

Download Newsletter Issue 60 July – September 2014

Photo of Father Alberto D'Apolito & Padre Pio in 1957.

Photo of Father Alberto D’Apolito & Padre Pio in 1957.

Let us always strive more and more to love the Lord. This great truth of loving God must not seem hard to us; on the contrary, we must consider ourselves honored, because the Lord God didn’t limit himself to creating us and telling us to love him, but he made a commandment of it . . . He commands us to do so, and the commandment is full of love. It is he who instills it into our hearts. It is he who gives us the means to be able to love him. But that which is more surprising, he has also promised us the prize. It isn’t something that is temporary, passing, or limited. It is as eternal as he is eternal; it is as immense as he is immense; it is as lasting as he is lasting. And God lasts forever, for all eternity.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

 

Padre Pio – A Priest of Extraordinary Gifts – Part II

On August 22, 1922, Alberto D’Apolito entered the Capuchin novitiate in Morcone, Italy and began the long years of study and formation for the priesthood. On one occasion during a few days of vacation time, he received permission to visit Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo.

One day, during his visit, Alberto noticed Padre Pio staring out the window at a mountain in the distance. Alberto greeted Padre Pio, but he did not seem to hear him. He appeared to be deep in thought. When Alberto approached him, Padre Pio was not even aware of his presence. Alberto tried to kiss Padre Pio’s hand but he noticed that it was completely rigid. He heard Padre Pio say, “Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis.” Padre Pio was pronouncing the Latin words of absolution, just as he did when he was hearing someone’s confession.

Alberto ran to get the superior of the monastery, Father Tommaso. Father Tommaso rushed to the window where Padre Pio was standing. Padre Pio was still in the process of repeating the Latin formula of absolution when Father Tommaso approached him. Suddenly, Padre Pio shook himself, as though he was waking up from a deep sleep. He looked at Alberto and Father Tommaso and greeted them. “Oh, I was not aware that you were standing here beside me. I was looking out the window at the mountains,” Padre Pio said.

A short time later, a telegram arrived for Father Tommaso from the city of Turin. It was from the relative of a man who had just passed away. The relative sent the telegram in order to thank Father Tommaso for allowing Padre Pio to leave the monastery and assist the dying man. It confirmed to Father Tommaso and Alberto what they had already suspected. Padre Pio had gone in bilocation to hear the man’s confession and to assist him in his last moments.

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Maria Pompilio, who was one of Padre Pio’s faithful spiritual daughters, worked as a school teacher in San Giovanni Rotondo. She attended Padre Pio’s Mass every morning and went to confession to him regularly. Through the years, she had received many graces through her contact with Padre Pio.

Once, on Christmas Eve, Padre Pio had gone to the sacristy of the church about 8:00 p.m. to hear the men’s confessions. It happened to be a very cold night. Because there was no heating in the monastery at that time, a stove had been placed in the sacristy to take the chill off.

While Padre Pio was hearing the men’s confessions, Maria Pompilio and several other women stayed in the church to pray. After the confessions were over, Maria and her companions went into the sacristy to greet Padre Pio and to kiss his hand. Maria noticed that Padre Pio’s hand was ice cold. Padre Pio greeted his spiritual daughters and said to them, “May the Child Jesus make you feel his mercy and his tender love.” “It is so cold tonight, Padre Pio,” one of his spiritual daughters said. “Please speak to us for a while. Tell us more about the Infant Jesus and fill us with the warmth of his love.”

Padre Pio then took his spiritual daughters to the visitors’ room in the monastery. There was a long table in the room with enough chairs for everyone to be seated comfortably. Padre Pio spoke about the Christmas Mysteries and said, “Daughters, let us meditate on the words of scripture in the book of John. John, the beloved disciple said, And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Tears filled Padre Pio’s eyes as he quoted John’s words from scripture. He paused for a moment to dry his eyes and then continued. He reflected on the privations of Jesus’ birth and infancy. He spoke of how Jesus was born in the winter, the coldest season of the year, in the depth of the night. There among the animals, he was laid in the manger. Mary and Joseph attended him lovingly as the angels in heaven rejoiced.

Suddenly Padre Pio closed his eyes and became silent. “Padre Pio has fallen asleep,” one of the women whispered. “He heard confessions all day today and he is exhausted. Let’s be very quiet and use the time to pray until he wakes up.” “I do not think he is asleep,” one of the other women said. “This is Christmas Eve. I believe that Padre Pio is in deep communion with Jesus at this very moment. It is truly a privilege for us to be sitting here with him.”

After about thirty minutes, Padre Pio opened his eyes. One of his spiritual daughters then said to him, “Padre Pio, you were silent for a long time. Since it is Christmas Eve, we were wondering if you were with the Baby Jesus?” Padre Pio made no reply. Another said, “Padre Pio, please tell us what you experienced as you sat with your eyes closed.” “If you promise not to say a word about it until after my death, I will tell you,” Padre Pio replied. “We give you our word that we will tell no one,” the women said in unison.

Padre Pio then said to the women, “The Lord permitted me to wish a happy Christmas to my brother Michael who is in America and also to my sister, Sister Pia, in her convent in Rome. Then Jesus showed me all of my spiritual children who have passed on to eternal life and I saw their dwelling places in heaven.” The women were deeply inspired by his words.

Before long, it was time for Padre Pio to prepare for the celebration of the Christmas Midnight Mass. Softly glowing candles illuminated the little 16th century church of Our Lady of Grace. The church had never looked so beautiful. When the Mass began, Padre Pio, who held a small statue of the baby Jesus in his arms, processed solemnly down the aisle toward the Christmas crib. Together with the choir, the Capuchins and the entire congregation sang Christmas carols and hymns of praise to God. All hearts seemed to glow with the fire of God’s love.

After the midnight Mass, before retiring to his cell, Padre Pio spoke to his spiritual daughters for the last time that evening and said, “Tonight heaven opened and many graces came down into your souls.” Truly, they had all been blessed.

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In 1966, Father Jean Derobert made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to see Padre Pio. Padre Pio told Father Derobert that he wanted him to start a prayer group in Paris. At that time, Father Derobert was the chaplain of a college that was located on the outskirts of Paris. Father Derobert was apprehensive about the idea of starting a prayer group. For one thing, he did not know many people in Paris. Without an ample number of contacts, he did not see how he would be able to interest people in the idea. Just the thought of organizing a prayer group filled him with fear.

Padre Pio, however, was not the least bit dismayed at Father Derobert’s concerns. He simply smiled at him and said, “I will help you.” When Father Derobert returned to France, he told a friend about his conversation with Padre Pio. His friend was excited at the prospect of having a prayer group in Paris. “Padre Pio has sent me here to help you,” the friend replied. “I feel certain of it.” Father Derobert could not have been more surprised.

Father Derobert and his friend soon found a beautiful chapel in Paris where they received permission to hold monthly prayer meetings. From the very beginning, a number of people showed great interest and attended regularly. Everything was moving forward in a wonderful way.

A year later, Father Derobert returned to San Giovanni Rotondo. As soon as Padre Pio saw him, he wanted news about the prayer group. He listened with great interest as Father Derobert gave him a full report. Padre Pio then said, “I know the group well. There are some very beautiful souls who attend. I go there often.” He then proceeded to describe in detail, the lovely chapel where they met each month. As a matter of fact, many of the members of the prayer group had told Father Derobert that they often felt Padre Pio’s presence at their monthly meetings. Before Father Derobert returned to Paris, Padre Pio gave him some words of wisdom. “Do nothing but pray,” he said.

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Monsignor John Gannon was acquainted with a retired navy man who lived in Washington, D.C. The man had attempted suicide on two different occasions. Monsignor Gannon, who was very devoted to Padre Pio, advised the man to pray to Padre Pio and to ask for his intercession. He gave him a prayer card of Padre Pio. The man followed Monsignor Gannon’s advice and frequently repeated the prayer to Padre Pio.

One night, the man went to a bar, and feeling a great sense of hopelessness and despair, he began to think once again about ending his life. There was a man at the bar with a beard who came over to him and said hello. “I know what you are planning to do tonight. Don’t do it!” the stranger said emphatically. Monsignor Gannon’s friend then asked the stranger for his name. He could not understand him completely but his name sounded something like “Pio.” There was no suicide attempt that night, thanks be to God. The man was convinced that Padre Pio paid him a visit and interceded for him in his darkest hour.

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Giuseppe Massa was studying theology in Rome in preparation for the priesthood when he became ill. His mother was very worried about his condition. One day his mother, who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo, spoke to Padre Pio about Giuseppe’s illness and asked him for his prayers.

Giuseppe soon recovered and was able to continue his studies for the priesthood. It was a great day for the entire Massa family when Giuseppe was ordained a Salesian priest. On the occasion of his ordination, Padre Pio wrote him a personal note and said, “I pray that you will be a holy priest and a perfect victim.” Father Giuseppe treasured the handwritten note from Padre Pio. Shortly after his ordination, Father Giuseppe became ill. The high fever and weakness that he had experienced previously, returned once again. He was finally diagnosed with a kidney disease and was told that he would have to have surgery.

The doctor spoke to Father Giuseppe’s mother and told her that it was advisable that she travel to Rome and stand by at the hospital during the time of her son’s surgery. Mrs. Massa knew that it would be very difficult for her to make the trip to Rome. She could not decide what to do. She went to the monastery and asked Padre Pio for his advice. “You already have five other children to care for. You should not make the trip to Rome,” Padre Pio said emphatically. “But I think Father Giuseppe will want me to be there when he is having the operation. How will he manage without me?” Mrs. Massa replied. She then began to cry. Seeing Mrs. Massa so distraught, Padre Pio felt very sorry for her. “If you don’t think I should go to Rome to be with my son, then I want you to go in my place,” Mrs. Massa said. “Oh, all right then,” Padre Pio replied, “I will go.”

After Father Giuseppe had his surgery, his health steadily improved. Later, he told his mother that while he was in the hospital, Padre Pio had come and had stood at his bedside. When Father Giuseppe had the opportunity, he traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo and spoke to Padre Pio. He thanked Padre Pio for the visitation he had made to him in his hour of need.

Father Giuseppe’s health continued to improve. He would live for fifty more years. Dedicating his time and effort to the religious education of youth, he helped countless souls through his priestly ministry. He truly became the holy priest that Padre Pio prayed that he would be.

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A photograph of Giovanni Gigliozzi (center).

A photograph of Giovanni Gigliozzi (center).

Giovanni Gigliozzi, was a famous journalist, broadcaster and writer who lived and worked in Rome. Giovanni had a great love for Padre Pio and Padre Pio in turn, had a great love for him. Giovanni’s beautiful spiritual reflections and writings were presented in some of the earliest publications put out by Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. Giovanni always looked forward to attending Padre Pio’s Mass and he did so whenever his schedule would allow him to.

For a long time, Giovanni had suffered from migraine headaches. On one occasion, shortly before he was scheduled to go on the air at his broadcast studio in Rome, he had a severe migraine headache. He knew from experience that the terrible headache would probably last for a long time. He told the director of the show that he would not be able to do the program that day. “But you have to do the program!” the director said. “We have no one who can substitute for you.” The director led him to one of the offices that had a couch. He told him to lie down and rest and perhaps the headache would go away. Giovanni followed his advice. He stretched out on the couch, closed his eyes and tried to relax.

Lying on the office couch, Giovanni suddenly heard a strange sound; it sounded like the clicking of Rosary beads. Next, he heard footsteps. He opened his eyes and to his utter surprise, he saw Padre Pio standing beside him. He was staring intently at Giovanni. Giovanni was so startled by the unexpected appearance of Padre Pio that he let out a scream. The thought occurred to Giovanni that perhaps he was about to die and that Padre Pio was there to usher him into the next world. Padre Pio smiled and put his hand on Giovanni’s head in a blessing. Right after that, he disappeared. Giovanni then realized that his migraine headache had vanished. He was able to continue with the scheduled broadcast that day.

The next time Giovanni visited the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio greeted him and said, “By the way, how are those headaches doing?” “I am feeling very well now,” Giovanni replied. “And I thank you for assisting me.” Padre Pio then smiled at him and said, “My goodness, those hallucinations!” It was Padre Pio’s way of confirming to Giovanni that he had come to his aide.

Though I was honored by his presence for such a long time, I understood practically nothing about Padre Pio. . .And if I have not understood him, believe me, it is not all my fault. Padre Pio had a special talent for hiding himself. He was humble, but with cleverness, I dare say, with merriment. Although he had so many virtues, he never let them weigh on those who were around him. – Giovanni Gigliozzi

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Martha Gemsch had been devoted to Padre Pio for many years. Martha had a sister named Lisa who was planning to make a trip to the missions. Lisa, who was an x-ray technician, was a person who had great compassion for others. She wanted to bring the modern-day technology of her profession to India as well as to other third world countries. She talked to Padre Pio about her plans and he advised her against it. However, she could not be swayed by his words and was determined to follow her heart.

Lisa was in the city of Dar es Salaam on the coast of East Africa when she was involved in a terrible auto accident. She died in the hospital the day after the accident. The day that Lisa died was the first day that Padre Pio had resumed hearing confessions after a long absence due to illness. That day, Martha, Lisa’s sister, was at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. She noticed that Padre Pio didn’t seem like himself. He was unusually quiet all through the day and seemed very unhappy.

According to Lisa’s doctor, Lisa died peacefully and with a smile on her face, even though she died alone and without the support of family or friends. One of the nuns who worked at the hospital, spoke to Lisa’s sister, Martha. The nun told her that Padre Pio had come to her in bilocation at the hospital. He spoke her and said, “I feel so sorry about what happened to Lisa, but I was here to assist her.” Martha was greatly consoled to know that her sister was assisted by Padre Pio at the time of her death.

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Twenty year old Tony Collette of Houston, Texas had a rare disease that affected his muscles and nervous system. He lived in a constant state of pain. He wore braces on his legs and had metal supports for his weak back. Even with crutches, it was very difficult for Tony to walk. He had several operations, but his condition did not improve. The doctor finally told Tony that nothing more could be done for him.

In 1973, Tony saw a Capuchin monk enter his room. He recognized him at once as Padre Pio. He had a great devotion to Padre Pio and had prayed to him many times through the years. Padre Pio smiled at Tony and said, “I want to help you. Do not be afraid.” At that moment, Tony felt a tremor course through his entire body. He felt the presence of God in the room. He suddenly realized that he was free of pain. Tony was permanently healed from his debilitating illness.

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Padre Pio and his Friends from Ireland

In 1967, Franciscan lay brother Pius McLaughlin of Derry, Ireland had the honor of being chosen to attend the General Chapter Meeting of the Franciscan Order which was held in Assisi, Italy. His responsibilities included assisting the English speaking provincials who were attending the Chapter from many different parts of the world.

One day, three of the provincials wanted to visit Padre Pio and asked Brother Pius to make the arrangements. He traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo with them and they were invited to stay in the monastery for the duration of their visit. Brother Pius was able to make his confession to Padre Pio, an experience that, as he said, “transformed his life forever.”

After Brother Pius finished his confession, there was a long period of silence. Finally Padre Pio said to him, “You did not mention that you were a Franciscan lay brother.” Brother Pius was shaken by his words. It had not occurred to him to tell Padre Pio that he was a lay brother and he certainly wasn’t trying to hide it. But the fact that Padre Pio had knowledge of it came as a shock.

Next Padre Pio said, “Would you like to talk to me about your problem and what you plan do about it?” Brother Pius wasn’t sure what Padre Pio was talking about and was at a complete loss for words. He began to perspire heavily and felt very much afraid. Finally he said, “I don’t have a problem.” Padre Pio answered and said, “But you do have a problem.” “I don’t have a problem,” Brother Pius repeated. “You have a problem,” Padre Pio said once again. It suddenly dawned on Brother Pius what Padre Pio was talking about. “Actually, there is something that has been bothering me,” Brother Pius said. “For a long time I have carried a secret desire in my heart to become a priest but I am worried that I will not be accepted.”

Padre Pio encouraged Brother Pius in his vocation and said, “Pray to God with all your heart and ask for His guidance. I advise you also to ask the permission from your superior.” The next week, when Brother Pius returned to Assisi he spoke to his superior about his desire to study for the priesthood. His superior was surprised and explained to Brother Pius that there might be obstacles that could stand in the way. There would also be long years of schooling and study ahead. In the Irish province where Brother Pius had made his profession, there had never been a single instance of a lay brother becoming an ordained priest. It simply wasn’t done. Brother Pius was determined to do his very best. He was accepted into the seminary and did well in his studies. He was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1973.

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A Prayer

Dear Lord, help me to remove from my mind every thought or opinion which you would not sanction; every feeling from my heart which you would not approve. Grant that I may spend the hours of the day gladly working with you according to your will. Help me just for today and be with me in it: in the long hours of work, that I many not grow weary or slack in serving you; in conversations, that they may not be to me occasions of uncharitableness; in the day’s worries and disappointments that I may be patient with myself and with those around me; in moments of fatigue and illness, that I may be mindful of others rather than of myself; in temptations, that I may be loyal; so that when the day is over I may lay it at your feet, with its successes which are all yours, and its failures which are all my own, and feel that life is real and peaceful and blessed when spent with you as the guest of my soul.
Amen

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 59 – April – June 2014

Download Newsletter Issue 59  April – June 2014

Padre Pio – A Priest of Extraordinary Gifts

Padre Pio – A Priest of Extraordinary Gifts

Padre Pio had a human aspect. He appears like others in the civilian registers. He is a fellow countryman and a contemporary of our own, born into a certain family, into a certain society, which gives him an identity card like any other citizen. But on the other hand, he appears as one destined to serve a divine purpose, sent as it was, to be a lightning conductor to protect us, as one who is merely lent to us here below to attend to the matter of our salvation.

– Ferdinando Gambardella

Padre Pio – A Priest of Extraordinary Gifts

Bilocation is the phenomenon in which a person is in one place at a given moment and is in another place at the same time. Although bilocation is indeed rare, instances of it in the lives of the saints are well‑documented. Nevertheless, it remains a mystery that cannot be fully explained, and in many ways it seems to be beyond the limits of human understanding.

There is little doubt that Padre Pio had the extraordinary gift of bilocation. During his lifetime, although he remained inside the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he was observed at times, in many different parts of the world. He was reportedly seen at the canonization of St. Therese of Lisieux in Rome in 1925. He also hinted that he sometimes went in spirit to the Holy House of Loreto, a shrine that he often encouraged people to visit. Located in Loreto, Italy, it is one of the most revered Marian shrines in the world. The Capuchins who lived with Padre Pio often wanted to question him about his gift of bilocation, but were reticent to bring up the subject.

Although Padre Pio was never known to speak at length about bilocation, from time to time he made brief comments about it. One time, the Capuchins were talking about St. Anthony of Padua’s ability to bilocate. One of the Capuchins said that he wondered if a person who bilocated actually knew that he was doing so.  “Of course the person knows,” Padre Pio replied. “He might not know if it is his body or if it is his soul that in bilocating, but he is very conscious of what is happening and he knows where he is going.”

In 1931, Father Agostino presided at a ceremony for religious profession in a Carmelite convent in Florence. One of the nuns who lived at the convent told Father Agostino that Padre Pio had appeared to her in bilocation. One day, Father Agostino, who was very close to Padre Pio, decided to ask him about it. “Do you sometimes take little trips to Florence?” he asked. “Sometimes I do,” Padre Pio replied. The nun also told Father Agostino that she begged Padre Pio to make a visitation to one of the other Sisters in the convent, Sister Beniamina. “No, I cannot visit her,” Padre Pio replied. “I do not have God’s permission.” When Father Agostino asked Padre Pio if he had made such a statement to the nun, he admitted that he had.

Father Eusebio Notte served as Padre Pio’s personal assistant for five years. Father Eusebio had an outgoing and engaging personality and a good sense of humor. When Padre Pio was feeling unhappy or ill, Father Eusebio was almost always able to cheer him up and bring a smile to his face. He seemed to know just the right words to say. The other Capuchins marveled at the wonderful rapport that Father Eusebio had with Padre Pio.

In the evenings, when Father Eusebio helped Padre Pio get ready for bed, he would sometimes tease him by saying, “Bon voyage!” He was referring to Padre Pio’s reported  “night time travels” through bilocation. On one occasion, when Father Eusebio was biding Padre Pio goodnight, he said to him, “I would like you to take me with you tonight. I will fasten my belt to yours and we will fly together.” “But what if your belt becomes loosened when we are up in the air?” Padre Pio asked. Padre Eusebio then smiled at him and said, “Well, perhaps it is better for me to stay in the monastery tonight.”

Padre Pio appeared in bilocation to his personal physician, Dr. Andrea Cardone of Pietrelcina, on several occasions. Dr. Cardone left a written testimony regarding the details. One of the visitations occurred on September 23, 1968 at six o’clock in the morning. Padre Pio had passed away approximately four hours before.

Padre Pio once told Father Alessio Parente, “I only know one thing, I go wherever God sends me.” On another occasion, he said to Father Pellegrino Funicelli, “All I can tell you is that I always try to remain attached to the thread of God’s will.” Through the gift of bilocation, Padre Pio was able to visit many of his spiritual children who were in great need of his help. He comforted those who were bereaved, came to the rescue of those in danger, and assisted the dying. It was part of his mission to souls. He truly remained conformed to the thread of God’s will.

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Padre Pio was a seventeen-year-old Capuchin student residing at the monastery of St. Francis of Assisi at Sant’ Elia a Pianisi when he had his first experience of bilocation. It happened on the evening of January 18, 1905. He was praying in the choir loft of the monastery church at eleven o’clock in the evening with a fellow Capuchin, Brother Anastasio. Suddenly, Brother Pio found himself in a large and beautiful estate in a faraway place. There, he ministered to a man who was dying. In the same house, a baby girl had just been born.

The Virgin Mary then spoke to Brother Pio and said, “I entrust this child to your care. She is a precious jewel. I want you to polish her and make her as brilliant as possible because one day I want to adorn myself with her.” “But how can I do that?” Brother Pio answered. “I am a simple Capuchin Brother. My future is uncertain. I do not even know if I will be ordained. And besides, how could I take care of a child?” “You will see,” the Virgin replied. “She will come to you. You will meet her at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.” The Virgin then vanished and Brother Pio found himself once again seated beside Brother Anastasio in the church.

Brother Pio knew that he had not fallen asleep in the monastery chapel and dreamed about the incident that had just occurred. He also knew that the experience had not been a product of his imagination. Nor was it an hallucination. But as to what had really happened, he did not know. The experience was so strange that he decided to write down all of the details. He gave his written testimony to Father Agostino.

As it turned out, the beautiful home that Brother Pio suddenly found himself in was the home of Giovanni Rizzani. It was located about three hundred and fifty miles away in the city of Udine, in northern Italy. Giovanni had been suffering for many months from a terminal illness. The night of Brother Pio’s visitation, Giovanni was on his death bed.

During Giovanni’s illness, he had informed his wife Leonilde that he did not want a priest to come to visit him. Giovanni had a great hostility toward religion. His friends kept a watch to make sure that no members of the clergy approached the house.

Leonilde Rizzani was a fervent Catholic. Her greatest desire was that her husband make peace with God before his death. She prayed to God and asked him to change her husband’s heart. When Giovanni seemed to be near the end, Leonilde begged the Lord for his salvation. As she was praying, she saw a young Capuchin monk. She could not understand what was happening because he appeared and then he seemed to disappear right before her eyes.

A photo of Giovanna Rizzani when she was eighteen years old.

A photo of Giovanna Rizzani when she was eighteen years old.

Leonilde, at that time was pregnant. In those anxious moments, she went into premature labor. Soon she gave birth to a baby girl. A friend of the family noticed that a Capuchin monk was standing in the darkness just outside of the Rizzani house. He insisted that the Capuchin be allowed inside. He knew that Giovanni had given specific orders against letting any clergy members in the house. However, it seemed only right to allow the Capuchin to come inside and baptize the newborn baby.

As soon as the Capuchin stepped inside the house, he went directly to Giovanni’s room. No one tried to stop him. He spoke to Giovanni privately. Before the visit was over, Giovanni asked for forgiveness for his sins and made his peace with God. He died later that night.

After Giovanni passed away, Leonilde decided to move with her new baby, Giovanna, to Rome. In 1922, when Giovanna was a teenager, she visited St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. At the Basilica, Giovanna was hoping to have the opportunity to go to confession. She had been having many doubts about her faith and she felt that her spiritual life was in a precarious state because of it. She wanted to talk to a priest and ask for advice. However, St. Peter’s was about to close so she realized that she would have to wait for another opportunity.

Giovanna was just about to exit the church when she saw a Capuchin priest standing near one of the confessionals. She asked him if he would hear her confession and he agreed to do so. The priest heard her confession and also gave her excellent spiritual counsel regarding her doubts about the faith. After Giovanna left the confessional, she told the sacristan that she wanted to wait for the priest to come out so that she could ask him his name. Giovanna waited but the priest did not come out. Finally, the sacristan looked in the confessional and found that it was empty.

The following year, Giovanna made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. She stood in a crowded corridor with many others who were waiting to greet Padre Pio. When he passed through the corridor, he noticed Giovanna. He said to her, “Daughter, I know you. On the very day that your father died, you were born.” Giovanna did not know what to make of his words.

The next day, Giovanna returned to the church and was able to make her confession to Padre Pio. Lovingly, Padre Pio told her that he had been waiting for her for many years. Giovanna thought that he had mistaken her for someone else.  Padre Pio went on to explain to her that he was the priest who had heard her confession the year before in St. Peter’s Basilica. “You belong to me, daughter. You have been entrusted to me by the Madonna,” he said. Giovanna was later able to read the statement that Padre Pio had written and had given to Father Agostino regarding his experience of bilocation on January 18, 1905. Giovanna noted that everything in the letter was accurate according to her birthdate as well as her family history.

Padre Pio told Giovanna that he wanted her to visit San Giovanni Rotondo often. Through the years she was able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass on many occasions and to make her confession to him. He encouraged her to enroll in the Third Order of St. Francis and she did so. He truly took care of her soul.

A short time before Padre Pio’s death, Giovanna felt in her heart that he was calling her to come to San Giovanni Rotondo. Just four days before he passed away, she was able to talk with him. “You will not see me again,” he said to her. She then understood that it was to be their last visit. Giovanna knew that for many years, she had been spiritually guided by a saint. She was aware that she had been blessed immeasurably. “I will be able to help you much more when I am in heaven,” he frequently repeated to his spiritual children.

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In 1905, Father Benedetto Nardella was Padre Pio’s professor of philosophy at the Capuchin monastery in San Marco La Catola. At that time, Padre Pio was a student in formation for the priesthood. Father Benedetto was a popular and gifted teacher as well as an author, theologian, and preacher. His preaching ability was so outstanding that he was in great demand in many parts of Italy. He was also an extraordinary spiritual director and his reputation for holiness increased with the passage of time. He was eventually elected Minister Provincial of the Capuchin order.

Father Benedetto was to become Padre Pio’s first spiritual director. He accompanied Padre Pio step by step on his spiritual journey and helped him in incalculable ways. Padre Pio often said that Father Benedetto understood his soul like no other. He considered Father Benedetto to be his “true teacher” in the ways of the spirit.

After Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood, he too became a spiritual director to a number of people who were seeking a closer union with the Lord. Whenever he was praised for his ability to direct souls, he referred all the credit to Father Benedetto. He used to tell people that he had received his training from Father Benedetto.

In 1922, Padre Pio’s fame as the “priest with the stigmata” was spreading rapidly. Some members of the clergy became jealous of Padre Pio and resented his popularity with the laity. They went to great lengths in their efforts to discredit him.That year, many severe restrictions were placed on his ministry by the Holy Office in Rome. One directive called for the dismissal of Father Benedetto as his spiritual director. No clear explanation was ever given as to the reason for the decision. The two Capuchins were ordered to cease all communication with each other.

Father Benedetto had been Padre Pio’s spiritual director for twelve years. The news was a crushing blow to both priests but especially to Padre Pio, who depended on Father Benedetto’s excellent spiritual counsel. Nevertheless, the two priests obeyed the directive without a complaint.

In the years that followed, whenever Father Benedetto passed through San Giovanni Rotondo, he would mentally send Padre Pio his blessing. Always obedient to the voice of the Church, he made no attempt to visit him.

Father Benedetto was living at the Capuchin monastery in San Severo in 1942 when he became gravely ill. Father Aurelio, who was the superior of the monastery at the time, stayed at his bedside during what proved to be his final illness. He asked Father Benedetto if he would like him to send for Padre Pio. Under the circumstances, it could be easily arranged. It had been twenty years since Father Benedetto and Padre Pio had last seen each other. “There is no need to send for Padre Pio,” Father Benedetto replied. “He is right here beside me.” Shortly after saying that, Father Benedetto passed away.

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 Father Carmelo Durante of Sessano used to go to Padre Pio’s cell in the evening to say goodnight to him. One time, as he bid Padre Pio goodnight, Padre Pio said to him, “I am in a hurry because I must make a long journey tonight.” “Where are you going?” Father Carmelo asked. Padre Pio made no reply. There was a moment of silence and then Padre Pio added, “To make this journey, I do not need the permission of my superior.” At the time, Father Carmelo was the superior of Our Lady of Grace monastery. So it was that Padre Pio, with a bit of humor, hinted to Father Carmelo that he was going to visit someone through bilocation. He would say no more.

Once, in the monastery dining room, Father Carmelo was speaking to his fellow Capuchins about the marvels of air travel. “Do you know that a nonstop flight from Rome to New York takes less than twelve hours?” Father Carmelo said. The information seemed incredible to all of the Capuchins. But Padre Pio was not impressed. “That is a long time!” Padre Pio remarked. “It only takes a second when I travel,” he added.

In 1954, Father Carmelo was making a detailed study of Padre Pio’s first years in San Giovanni Rotondo. In order to gather information, he organized some meetings with Padre Pio’s spiritual children who had been with him from the beginning. He met with Rachele Russo, the Ventrella sisters, the Pompilio sisters, Filomena Fini, Rosinella Gisolfi, Nina Campanile and others.

During the first meeting, there were ten people in attendance. While the meeting was in progress, Rosinella Gisolfi whispered that she could see Padre Pio in the room. Rosinella, who had received spiritual direction from Padre Pio through the years, was a very devout woman. Father Carmelo was certain that she was telling the truth. He had no reason to doubt it. But he wanted confirmation regarding Rosinella’s claim.

Father Carmelo did not want to ask Padre Pio directly about the bilocation incident. When he returned to the monastery, he asked the Capuchins about Padre Pio’s activities that evening. They told him that Padre Pio had conducted the Benediction service in the church just like always and that he had spoken to some visitors. After that, he went to bed.

At Father Carmelo’s second meeting with Padre Pio’s spiritual children, Rosinella saw Padre Pio once again. Father Carmelo decided to speak to Padre Pio about it. One day he gathered up his courage and said to Padre Pio, “Rosinella said that you . . . ” and then he trailed off. He lost his nerve midway through the sentence. “What did Rosinella say?” asked Padre Pio. With a great effort, Father Carmelo was finally able to blurt out the words, “Rosinella said that you are present at our meetings through bilocation.”  “Well, don’t you want me to come to those meetings?” Padre Pio asked. As usual, his words were evasive.

Rosinella told Father Carmelo that Padre Pio was present at their third meeting. As time passed, speaking to Padre Pio about bilocation became easier. When Father Carmelo questioned Padre Pio about being present at their third meeting, he confirmed that it was true. “Yes, of course I was at the meeting,” Padre Pio exclaimed. Several weeks later Padre Pio said to Father Carmelo, “You never ask me anymore if I attend your meetings. Don’t you want to know?”  “The reason that I don’t ask is because I am now convinced that you are always there,” Father Carmelo replied. “Yes, it is true,” Padre Pio said. “I accompany you always and everywhere.”

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 Pope Pius X was a man who possessed countless saintly virtues – charity, apostolic zeal, deep humility, piety, simplicity, and more. He has often been called “The Pope of the Eucharist.” He encouraged people to receive Holy Communion frequently and if possible daily. He used to say, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.”

Pope Pius X was distinguished by his extraordinary charity and kindness, especially his habitual generosity to the poor. At his own expense, he filled the Vatican with refugees from the devastating earthquake of 1908 in Messina, Sicily. His decision to help the displaced people came long before the Italian government had decided on an action plan.

Pope Pius X, who had a lifelong devotion to the Virgin Mary, became ill on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15) in 1914. He died five days later. The world mourned the death of the gentle and humble prelate who had remained a country priest at heart throughout his long life. His last will and testament gave a remarkable insight into his character. He said, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I want to die poor.”

Pope Pius X was buried in a simple and unadorned tomb in a crypt below St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Shortly after his death, the faithful began to make pilgrimages to his tomb. Accounts of miraculous favors and cures were soon reported. Miracles and healings had been reported during his lifetime as well. On May 29, 1954, Pius X was canonized by Pope Pius XII.

Padre Pio always had a great love for Pope Pius X. He spoke of him often and with profound reverence. It was common knowledge that Padre Pio did not leave the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. However, on a number of occasions, people reported that they saw Padre Pio praying at the tomb of Pope Pius X in Rome. Pope Pius XI had heard the reports on more than one occasion and did not know what to make of them. He decided to ask the saintly priest, Father Luigi Orione, for his opinion on the matter.

Father Orione (who was canonized in 2004 by Pope John Paul II) was held in great esteem by Pope Pius XI. Members of the clergy as well as people from all walks of life were aware of his great spiritual stature. One day Pope Pius XI asked Father Orione if he believed that Padre Pio came in spirit to pray at the tomb of Pope Pius X. “It is true what the people have said,” Father Orione replied. “I too have seen Padre Pio praying at the tomb of St. Pius X.” “I trust your word,” the pope replied. “If you say it is true, I also believe.”

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 Brother Costantino was a lay brother who lived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio admired him for his Franciscan humility and simplicity and for his strong faith. Every day Brother Costantino went to town to collect donations for the monastery. Many times, people asked him to carry a message to Padre Pio and he was always glad to do so. By the same token, when he returned to town, he was usually able to bring a reply from Padre Pio.

In 1958, Brother Costantino became ill and was admitted to the Home for the Relief of Suffering. He had just recently celebrated fifty years of religious profession. Padre Pio had presided at the ceremony in which Brother Costantino renewed his vows to the religious life.

One day, a man who had visited Brother Costantino at the hospital spoke to Padre Pio and said, “I think Brother Costantino would be very pleased if you would go to the hospital and visit him. It would mean so much to him.” Padre Pio told the man that he had already been to the hospital to visit Brother Costantino.

Father Giovanni, one of the Capuchins, happened to be standing nearby and overheard the conversation between the man and Padre Pio. He was certain that Padre Pio had not been over to the hospital to pay a visit to Brother Costantino. Because of Padre Pio’s popularity, it was an “event” whenever he left the monastery and it always created quite a sensation. People generally talked about it for days. If Padre Pio had been visiting Brother Costantino at the hospital, Father Giovanni as well as the other Capuchins, would have been the first to know.

Father Giovanni went to the Home for the Relief of Suffering and spoke to Brother Costantino. “Has Padre Pio been here to visit you since your hospitalization?” he asked.  “Oh, yes,” Brother Costantino replied. “He comes two or three times every day to see me. It is a great consolation to have him at my bedside. He gives me resignation.” Brother Costantino knew that his end was near.

Padre Pio loved Brother Costantino very much. Through bilocation, he was able to console his Capuchin Brother. He helped him to accept his death in a true spirit of resignation to God’s will.

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 58 – Jan – March 2014

 

Download Newsletter Issue 58  January – March 2014

66kPrayer was the key to Padre Pio’s existence and the guarantee of his mission. Prayer was his daily activity. He also dedicated many hours of the night to prayer. It was the task which he felt was particularly his own and which drew upon him the attention of the whole world. At the altar, in his cell, or in the monastery garden, with his hands folded in prayer or holding his Rosary, his world was God – to be contemplated, to be praised, to be entreated, to be propitiated. More than anything else, his was a life of prayer, of uninterrupted conversation with God.

– Father Fernanado of Riese Pio X

Father Denys Pierre Auvray, a French priest of the Dominican Order, visited Padre Pio for the first time in 1956. Father Denys was able to talk with Padre Pio during the Capuchins’ recreation period, when Padre Pio and the others took a short break from their busy schedules. Since Father Denys did not speak Italian, he spoke to Padre Pio in Latin. Among all the brown-robed Capuchins who were gathered together that day, Father Denys stood out in his long white wool Dominican habit.

Father Denys was very happy that he had been able to talk to Padre Pio but he knew that it would be much better if he could converse with him in Italian rather than Latin. He also had a great desire to make his confession to Padre Pio. He decided to study the Italian language so that he could communicate freely with Padre Pio and receive spiritual direction from him.

Father Denys made many return trips to San Giovanni Rotondo. When he visited, he frequently lodged at the Villa Pia hotel, not far from the Capuchin monastery. One afternoon when he returned to his room at the Villa Pia, he noticed that it was pervaded by a strong perfume. It had happened on more than one occasion and he became very concerned. He spoke to Luigi, one of the employees at the hotel, and voiced a complaint. “Someone is sneaking into my room when I am out and I am very upset. I always keep my door locked when I am away but I believe that a woman has been unlocking my door and going inside. I have proof because there is a strong scent of perfume that is still lingering inside the room.” In order to prove his point, he invited Luigi to step inside his room.

Luigi entered Father Denys’ room and noticed the fragrance at once. He did his best to explain the phenomenon to Father Denys. “The fragrance in your room is not because a lady has been coming in while you are away,” Luigi said. “The fragrance is from Padre Pio.”

Luigi explained to Father Denys that sometimes Padre Pio made his presence known by a wonderful fragrance. As he was talking to Father Denys, the room suddenly became pervaded with the strong scent of incense. “You see,” said Luigi. “Now we notice the fragrance of incense. It just so happens that Padre Pio is at the church right now presiding at the Benediction service.” The penetrating fragrance of Padre Pio’s perfume stayed in Father Denys’ room for the next fifteen days.

Father Denys Auvray

Father Denys Auvray

During Father Denys’ visits to San Giovanni Rotondo, he met many of the people who collaborated with Padre Pio in his apostolic works. Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti was one of those individuals. Emilia Sanguinetti, the doctor’s wife, told Father Denys that she made it a practice to go to confession to Padre Pio once each week. On one occasion when she was making her confession, she noticed that Padre Pio’s face was swollen. There was also a small cut on his face. She asked him about it and he told her that the injury occurred when he was reciting the exorcism prayers over a woman who was possessed. At that moment, the devil struck him. Padre Pio told Emilia that if he had received the blow just a millimeter lower, it would have taken out his eye.

At the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, there were generally always long lines of people waiting to make their confession to Padre Pio. Father Denys was impressed by the fact that Padre Pio met thousands of people in his lifetime, but he saw each person as an individual. He marveled at Padre Pio’s gifts of discernment and reading of hearts.

Father Denys was speaking with Padre Pio on one occasion when he made a comment about the weather. “What is it about San Giovanni Rotondo? It certainly rains too much. It rains almost constantly!” Father Denys remarked. “Yes, it does rain a lot here,” Padre Pio replied. “But here it also rains the Asian flu.” Evidently Padre Pio could sense what was about to happen, because shortly after he spoke the words, Father Denys came down with the Asian flu.

Father Denys heard much talk about Padre Pio’s love for the angels. Every day at the monastery, Father Denys observed that Padre Pio prayed to St. Michael the Archangel. One day, he asked Padre Pio, “Are the angels really present to you? Are they with you when you retire for the night and do they ever help you get to sleep?” “Yes, they are with me,” Padre Pio replied. “They help me get to sleep unless they are coming to deliver a message from my spiritual children. In that case, they come to wake me up.”

On one occasion, Father Denys sent his guardian angel to Padre Pio. It happened when he was preaching a retreat to a religious order of nuns in the seaside town of Biarritz, in the southwest part of France. During the retreat, he suddenly began to feel very ill. Worried that he might not be able to continue with the program, Father Denys prayed with urgency to his guardian angel. “Dear guardian angel,” he prayed, “Please take a message to Padre Pio for me. Tell him that I am very sick and I need his prayers so that I can recover. Otherwise, I do not see how I can complete this retreat.” To Father Denys’ great relief, he soon began to feel better and he managed to preach all the sermons in the retreat.

Later, Father Denys wrote a letter to one of the Capuchins at Our Lady of Grace monastery. He explained that he had sent his guardian angel to Padre Pio and he wanted to know if Padre Pio had received the message. The Capuchin wrote back to Father Denys and told him that he had spoken to Padre Pio about the matter. Padre Pio said that Father Denys’ guardian angel had paid him a visit. Padre Pio hoped that Father Denys was feeling better and he had been praying for him ever since he had received the angelic message regarding his illness.

From time to time, Father Denys was troubled by various health issues. He told Padre Pio that if the state of his health improved, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He had always had a desire to go there. “If I become stronger physically, I would like to go on pilgrimage in thanksgiving to God for the blessing of good health,” Father Denys said. “Of course, Divine Providence would have to assist me, because the expenses of such a trip would be enormous, far more than I would be able to afford.” Padre Pio listened to Father Denys but made no comment.

One day, in the hotel dining room, Father Denys met a couple from Lebanon, Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert. Father Denys was enjoyed the fact that he could converse with them in his native French. They told Father Denys that they had come to San Giovanni Rotondo in order to ask Padre Pio for his prayers. Their son had died tragically in an accident in India just three months previously.

Father Denys felt very sorry for the couple. He knew that it was almost impossible for the pilgrims to speak to Padre Pio privately. There were visitors at the monastery from all parts of the world. Almost everyone had a desire to speak to Padre Pio. The Capuchins were very protective and did their best to shield Padre Pio from the crowds. Because Father Denys was a priest, he had easier access to Padre Pio. He decided to speak to Padre Pio and see if he could arrange for Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert to meet him.

Father Denys went to the monastery and told Padre Pio about Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert. “The couple’s son has recently died,” Father Denys said. “They have come here to ask you for your prayers,” he added. “All right,” Padre Pio answered. “I will be happy to pray for their son.” “But they have a great desire to meet you and to speak to you,” Father Denys said. “It will not be necessary,” Padre Pio replied. “But it is necessary,” Father Denys answered. “They need to see you.”

That afternoon, Padre Pio presided at the Benediction service, just like he did every day. After Benediction, Father Denys told Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert to follow him into the sacristy. Padre Pio would be there shortly. When Padre Pio came into the sacristy, Father Denys introduced him to the couple and said, “Padre Pio, this is the couple I was telling you about. Their son died three months ago.” Mr. DeChabert had a photograph of his son, and he gave it to Padre Pio. Padre Pio held the photo in his hand and looked at it in silence. Finally, he blessed it. Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert felt greatly consoled.

Father Denys was always happy whenever he had a chance to spend time with Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert. Since the couple lived in Lebanon, Father Denys told them that he had always been interested in the Holy Land. He asked them if they had ever traveled there and they replied that they had. “I am particularly interested in Jerusalem,” Father Denys said. “Have you ever been there?” he asked the couple. “Of course we have,” Mr. DeChabert replied. “It is only an hour plane ride from where we live in Beirut. And you, have you ever been to the Holy Land?” Mr. DeChabert asked. “No, I have not,” Father Denys replied. “I have always wanted to go there but my health is not the best and besides, I would never be able to afford it.” “It wouldn’t be expensive at all,” Mr. DeChabert said. “It would be free. I am going to give you a first-class ticket. I am the Director of Public Transportation in Lebanon.”

Father Denys was astonished. He thought about his lifelong desire to visit the Holy Land and he remembered the time he had spoken to Padre Pio about it. He had the feeling that Padre Pio had something to do with the unexpected gift.

In 1963, Father Denys traveled to the Holy Land for a three-week stay. Later, he visited Mr. and Mrs. DeChabert in Beirut, Lebanon. Before the trip to the DeChaberts’ homeland, Father Denys spoke to Padre Pio about it. “In that country, you will suffer,” Padre Pio said. Father Denys was not sure what he meant, but he would soon find out. The widespread poverty in Lebanon was very painful for Father Denys to witness. To see the privation and the hardship of so many people, caused him great suffering.

To Father Denys, Padre Pio was a model of holiness for all people, both priests and laity. Whenever Padre Pio spoke about God, Father Denys always had the sense that he was speaking about someone that he had intimate contact with, someone that he knew very well. When Father Denys looked back on the many times he was able to visit Padre Pio through the years, he knew how truly fortunate he was. To Father Denys, every encounter with Padre Pio had been a time of grace.

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Nonce Gargano, who owned a furniture store in Marseilles, France, was a close friend of Mr. Bossi, who was one of his regular customers. Mr. Bossi used to visit Nonce at the furniture store almost every day. One day, Mr. Bossi asked Nonce if he had ever heard of Padre Pio and he answered that he had not. Mr. Bossi went on to tell him many facts about Padre Pio’s life and spirituality and encouraged him to make a visit to Padre Pio’s monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo if he ever got the change.

Not long after that, Nonce’s twenty-six-year-old daughter Arlette became gravely ill. She was diagnosed with a very serious lung disease and had to be sent to a sanitarium which was almost two hundred miles from Nonce’s home in Marseilles. Nonce kept Mr. Bossi informed on Arlette’s condition.

As the days passed, Nonce became more and more worried about his daughter’s health. Mr. Bossi could see the fear and anxiety in Nonce’s face. He gave him a picture of Padre Pio and said, “Take this picture of Padre Pio to your daughter and have her place it on her chest.” Nonce did what his friend suggested. He took the photo to Arlette and encouraged her to pray to Padre Pio.

During Nonce’s visit, Arlette’s doctor asked him to come into his office. “I have bad news for you,” the doctor said. He showed him the x-rays of Arlette’s lungs. The cavities within her lungs had become more pronounced and had spread throughout both lungs. The doctor told Nonce that the only solution would be for Arlette to have surgery.

When Nonce returned to Marseilles, he was anxious to give Mr. Bossi an update regarding his daughter’s condition. He was disappointed when he remembered that Mr. Bossi was not in town. He had made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio’s monastery. However, he had given Nonce the telephone number of the hotel that he was staying at. Nonce called the hotel and was soon able to speak to his friend. He explained to him the distressing news that Arlette’s doctor had just told him. “Don’t worry,” Mr. Bossi said. “We will ask Padre Pio to pray for Arlette.”

A few days later, Nonce went back to the sanitarium in order to give his permission for Arlette to have the operation. He was greeted by the doctor and shown a brand-new set of x-rays. The x-rays showed that Arlette’s lungs were now completely normal. The doctor told Nonce that there was no explanation for the improvement. It was the doctor’s opinion that Arlette had received a miraculous cure. “Your daughter has been healed,” the doctor said to Nonce.  “We have never before seen a miracle like this at the sanitarium.” Nonce was astonished by the news. He realized that it was the supernatural intervention of Padre Pio that had cured his daughter.

In 1966, Nonce took his wife and children to San Giovanni Rotondo. His purpose for the visit was to thank Padre Pio for Arlette’s healing. Nonce was happy that Mr. and Mrs. Bossi were able to accompany them on the trip. After they found lodging near the monastery, Nonce learned that Padre Pio celebrated Mass each morning at the early hour of 5:00 a.m. He informed his family that he would not be attending Padre Pio’s Mass the next morning. It was just too early and he knew it would be too hard to get up. He would wait till later in the day to go to the monastery. Oddly enough, very early the next morning, someone knocked loudly on Nonce’s door and woke him up. He never discovered who it was. Since he could not get back to sleep, he decided to attend Padre Pio’s Mass with his family.

That morning, the monastery church of Our Lady of Grace was full to overflowing. Nonce and his family were not able to find a seat and had to stand for the duration of the Mass. Nonce had not been inside a church in many years. He tried to recall how long it had been. He estimated that it had been fifty years since he had received Holy Communion. However, watching the way Padre Pio celebrated Mass made a deep impression on him. Afterward, he asked a man in the church if he knew how he might be able to speak to Padre Pio. The man told Nonce to go up to the first floor of the monastery and wait in the St. Francis room. Padre Pio would soon be going there to greet the visitors.

Nonce and his three sons followed the man’s instructions. When they entered the St. Francis room, it was already crowded with men who were hoping to see Padre Pio. As Nonce waited, he silently repeated the only two prayers that he knew by heart – the Our Father and the Hail Mary. Nonce grew more and more nervous as the time passed. He began to tremble. He had totally neglected the practice of his faith for all of his adult life and suddenly began to feel very guilty about his actions. He had heard that Padre Pio could be severe with people who were not practicing their faith.

Before long, Padre Pio came out of the elevator with two Capuchins at his side. When Padre Pio walked into the St. Francis room, Nonce instinctively knelt down. As Padre Pio passed through the crowded hall, his eyes came to rest on Nonce. He paused in front of him and looked at him straight in the eyes. Padre Pio’s gaze was so penetrating that Nonce felt overwhelmed. He could not find his words. All he could do was whisper, “Padre Pio.” Padre Pio then put his hand on Nonce’s head and gave him a blessing. That blessing and touch from Padre Pio changed everything for Nonce. He was never the same again.

When Nonce and his family returned to Marseilles, it was not back to business as usual. They began to attend Mass together every Sunday as a family. In addition, they never missed a Holy Day of Obligation. It was like a completely new beginning. From that time forward, they visited San Giovanni Rotondo every year. They also found great inspiration in going on pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in Lourdes, France. Padre Pio too, was very devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes and encouraged people to visit the holy sanctuary.  A painting of St. Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes, hung on the wall of his cell.

In 1968, Nonce began to experience many difficulties with his furniture business. His store was impacted in a negative way due to competition from other similar stores which were springing up in the surrounding areas. Nonce decided to take his wife to San Giovanni Rotondo and seek the help of Padre Pio.

In San Giovanni Rotondo, Nonce spoke to Brother Modestino and told him that he and his wife had come from Marseilles, seeking Padre Pio’s prayerful intercession. Brother Modestino was very familiar with Padre Pio’s schedule and was happy to help Nonce and his wife. He led them to a corridor in the monastery and told them that Padre Pio would be passing through the area in a short time. All along the corridor, women were kneeling. Nonce’s wife knelt down with the other women and waited for Padre Pio.

 Nonce soon saw Padre Pio as he came down the corridor. He prayed with great intensity, “Padre Pio, please give my wife a blessing!” Before he had even finished his prayer, Padre Pio walked straight over to his wife and blessed her. Nonce was amazed. When they returned to Marseilles, they both felt that they had received the necessary strength to face up to all their difficulties. Their prayers had been answered.

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There was a woman who used to go frequently to confession to Padre Pio. She was one of his faithful spiritual daughters. She had a strong, decisive personality and also a hot temper. She was well aware of her impulsive nature and her character weaknesses. She sincerely tried to make progress in overcoming her faults, but it seemed to be an uphill battle.

On one occasion, the woman attended a religious play that was held in the church hall at Our Lady of Grace monastery. Padre Pio was there with all the other Capuchins to watch the performance. The hall was filled to capacity that evening.

When the performance was over, Padre Pio followed the other Capuchins back into the church. The woman happened to be walking right in front of Padre Pio as he was making his way toward the church. Suddenly one of the Capuchins yelled at her in a rude manner, “Get out of the way! Make way for Padre Pio!” The disrespectful way that the Capuchin spoke to her was more than she could bear. The woman felt so insulted that she yelled right back at the Capuchin, “No, I will not do what you say. I am not in the way. You are a bad priest. You are full of bitterness!” The Capuchin became so angry at the woman’s words that his face turned bright red. Padre Pio was standing close by but he seemed to be wrapped in his own thoughts and did not appear to notice the incident.

A few days later, the woman went to confession to Padre Pio. She confessed that she had lost her temper with the Capuchin priest when he spoke harshly to her. She said words to him that she now regretted and she was truly sorry for her behavior.

Padre Pio listened carefully but remained silent. The woman waited for him to respond, but he did not. “Padre Pio, did you hear what I just confessed? I offended a priest. I yelled back at him and told him that he was a bad priest. I have committed a grave offense. I know that you were there when the incident happened but you seemed to be preoccupied with something else.” Again there was silence.

Finally, Padre Pio said to her, “When you lost your temper and said those disrespectful words to the priest, did he answer you back?” “No, he did not,” the woman replied. “Did he say even one word?” Padre Pio asked. “No, he said nothing,” the woman answered. With those few words, Padre Pio wanted the woman to realize that the priest restrained himself even though he was very angry and even though he could have easily kept the argument going. With very few words, Padre Pio made his point.

On another occasion, Padre Pio taught the woman an important lesson by once again using a few well-chosen words. He shocked her one day by asking her if she would give him a cigarette. She was so taken aback by the request that she could not even find words to answer him.  “You know that smoking a cigarette is not a sin,” Padre Pio said. “That is true,” the woman replied. “It is not a sin, but it is a weakness. I do not want to give you a cigarette because I do not want to see that weakness in you.”  “Exactly,” Padre Pio replied. “And I do not want to see that weakness in you either!” The woman got the message loud and clear. She gave up smoking cigarettes.

I have worked and I want to work. I have prayed and I want to pray. I have kept watch and I want to keep watch. I have cried and I want to cry – always for all of my brothers who are in exile. I know and understand that this is very little but this is what I know how to do; this is what I am able to do; and this is all that I can do.

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 57 – Oct – Dec 2013

Stories from the Early Years

Download Newsletter Issue 57  October – December 2013

Front Page photo

Padre Pio with Father Michael Nardone, Minister General of the Trinitarian Order. Karl Klugkist (feature story) was also a Trinitarian priest.

In July 1916, Father Paolino of Cascalenda, the superior of Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, traveled to the Capuchin monastery of St. Anne in Foggia in order to preach for the feast of St. Anne. Padre Pio lived at St. Anne’s monastery at that time. During his visit, Father Paolino noticed the poor state of Padre Pio’s health. He was extremely weak and frail and was unable to keep any food on his stomach. He was also suffering from the intense summer heat in Foggia.

Father Paolino invited Padre Pio to visit the Capuchin community in San Giovanni Rotondo, thinking that the change of climate might do him good and Padre Pio accepted the invitation with gratitude. At the time, Padre Pio was twenty-nine years old.

Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo was one of the poorest and oldest monasteries that the Capuchins possessed. It was also one of the most isolated foundations in the province. A profound silence surrounded the old whitewashed monastery and the small church that was attached to it. In the distance, the clang of sheep bells could be heard as shepherds took their flocks to graze on the mountain just behind the monastery. People from the town rarely walked up the long dirt path to the top of the hill in order to attend Mass at Our Lady of Grace.

Padre Pio loved the solitude and peace that the monastery provided, saying to one of his confreres, “The silence here is beautiful.” He also enjoyed the Capuchin community of priests and brothers who lived at Our Lady of Grace and they in turn enjoyed his company.

While in San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio felt the beneficial effects of breathing the fresh mountain air. The higher altitude seemed to agree with him and the cooler climate was a welcome break from the hot weather in Foggia. In the eight days that Padre Pio spent there, his health showed a marked improvement.

When Padre Pio returned to Foggia, he asked for permission to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. He received the permission from his superior and returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in September 1916. He would live with the Capuchins there for the next fifty-two years, until his death in 1968.

The testimonies that follow are from two of Padre Pio’s spiritual sons, Karl Klugkist and Nicola Pazienza. They met Padre Pio in the early years, not long after he was sent to Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo:

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The Russian prince, Karl Klugkist, was born in Kiev on March 25, 1871. After being exiled at the beginning of World War I, he moved to Italy. Karl, who was intelligent and well educated, was also a deeply spiritual man who was seeking a closer walk with the Lord.

In 1919, Karl learned of Padre Pio for the first time. A priest that Karl met in Foggia, Italy told him a few details of Padre Pio’s life. The priest had known Padre Pio when Padre Pio was a fifteen-year-old student in the Capuchin novitiate in Morcone. The priest told Karl that all of the young aspirants in the novitiate loved Padre Pio. The priests and instructors at Morcone felt the same way. They admired him for his goodness and for his humility. According to the priest who spoke to Karl, “There was not a trace of evil in Brother Pio.” Karl then read some articles in the newspaper about Padre Pio which further sparked his interest. He had a number of spiritual problems at the time and decided that it would be beneficial to go to San Giovanni Rotondo and speak to Padre Pio, asking for his counsel.

Karl had to wait two days to get a seat on the bus that traveled from Foggia to San Giovanni Rotondo. San Giovanni Rotondo was a popular destination at the time as many people wanted to make their confession to Padre Pio and to attend his Mass. Karl was finally able to board the bus but it was anything but a comfortable journey. It took two hours for the rickety old bus to maneuver along the worst kind of roads enroute to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace. On the journey, Karl enjoyed looking out the window at the wide expanse of sky. He also enjoyed breathing the fresh mountain air which he found to be invigorating. However, the closer that he got to San Giovanni Rotondo, the more oppressive the landscape became. Scrub trees and rocks dotted the barren hills and the bleakness of the area made Karl feel depressed.

Karl was happy that he had been able to obtain a letter of introduction from the archbishop of Gaeta. The letter included a request that Karl be allowed to speak to Padre Pio. When he arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he handed his letter to the first Capuchin he saw. The Capuchin instructed Karl to go through the monastery courtyard and then enter the church through the small door that was just beyond.

When Karl walked into the church, the first thing he noticed was a Capuchin priest who was hearing a man’s confession in an open confessional. The penitent who knelt beside the priest appeared to be a local farmer. Slowly, the priest who was hearing the man’s confession raised his head and looked up at Karl. Karl recognized the priest immediately. It was Padre Pio. For some reason, he had not expected to see him so soon after arriving at the monastery. Karl felt both surprised and afraid at the same time.

The corridor was packed with men waiting in line to make their confession to Padre Pio. At the other end of the corridor, there was another door. There were a number of men trying to force their way through the door so that they too could get in the confessional line. They were dressed in work clothes and they all appeared to be farmers from the local area. The noise and commotion that the men were making struck Karl as very irreverent. He quickly summed up the situation and realized that in order to talk to Padre Pio about what was on his mind, he would need to get in the confessional line.

Karl took his place in the line and began to prepare himself for his encounter with Padre Pio. From where he was standing in line, he could easily observe Padre Pio. Karl noticed that he remained immobile, with his arms either crossed or resting on the chair in front of him while he heard confessions. He kept his head lowered. As Karl looked at Padre Pio, he was awed by the beauty of his face. It was the most beautiful face that he had ever seen. Karl got caught up in gazing at Padre Pio, and forgot all about making his preparation for confession.

Karl continued to stare at Padre Pio. Just before he gave absolution to the man who was in the confessional, Padre Pio recited a prayer in a low voice. Karl was close enough to hear the prayer. It sounded as though Padre Pio was speaking in another language, possibly an Asian language. Karl, who was fluent in a number of languages, could not identify the words.

Karl was still trying to focus his mind and prepare himself for confession. He let six men go in front of him in the line. All of a sudden, a man, thinking to do Karl favor, pushed him forward. Karl could postpone the encounter no longer. As he knelt before Padre Pio, he realized how truly unprepared he was to speak to him.

Padre Pio asked Karl when he had made his last confession. Karl told him that it had been the day before. “What sins have you committed since yesterday morning?” Padre Pio asked. Karl could not think of a single sin to confess. “I did not realize that I was going to have the opportunity to make my confession to you today,” Karl explained. “I am not really prepared to do so. I came here hoping that I might be able to have a chat with you.” The moment the words were out of his mouth, Karl regretted them. “That is impossible,” Padre Pio answered. “There are too many people waiting in line. I cannot allow people to have a chat with me. If you have something to tell me, you must tell it to me during confession.”

Karl had written out the items that he wanted to discuss with Padre Pio on a piece of paper. He wished that he had the paper with him but unfortunately he had left it in his suitcase. He knew that he had to speak quickly. There was not a minute to waste. Karl then began to talk about himself, jumping from one period of his life to another in no particular order.

As Karl spoke, he continued to study Padre Pio. He felt the full impact of his holiness. He was convinced that he was in the presence of a true saint. Padre Pio was different from anyone that Karl had ever met. Spiritually, he seemed to be in a class all by himself. To Karl, he appeared like a bright light, shining in the midst of the world’s darkness. He was direct and confident and there was no trace of false sweetness or sentimentality in his manner. At one point, Padre Pio blew on his hands several times, as if they were burning. He showed absolutely no self-consciousness in doing so.

Padre Pio listened with the greatest attention as Karl spoke, but he did not make eye contact with him. Because of it, Karl felt as though there was no personal relationship or personal connection between he and Padre Pio. Although Karl could have talked much longer, he finally stopped himself after about ten minutes, knowing that many others were waiting in line for the same opportunity.

When Karl finished speaking, Padre Pio said to him, “You are seeking the way but you have already found the way.” He did not admonish or scold Karl. He did not tell him what course to take in his life. He did not try to influence his will. He left him completely free to make his own decision. Then he spoke in the mysterious language that Karl had heard before but could not identify. Before leaving the confessional, Karl kissed Padre Pio’s hand. To his great surprise, he noticed a beautiful perfume coming from his hand.

During his visit to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Karl felt blessed to be able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass. When Padre Pio came out of the sacristy, a great silence fell upon the congregation. At the Mass, Karl was seated close enough to the altar to see Padre Pio’s hands very clearly. Padre Pio had removed his gloves and Karl saw a red circular mark about the size of a small coin in the middle of each of his hands. Karl noticed blood trickling from the wounds in his hands during the Consecration. Karl could not contain his emotions and upon receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio, he began to weep.

After the Mass, two men approached Padre Pio and wanted to make their confession. Karl was standing nearby and noticed that Padre Pio would not agree to it. “Those men did not come here to make their confession,” Padre Pio said.

During the days of his visit to Our Lady of Grace monastery, Karl occasionally walked to town. Whenever he did so, it always felt as though he had stepped back in time. Life at the monastery seemed to be far removed from the secular concerns and realities of the modern world. Padre Pio reminded him more of a prophet from the Middle Ages than a man of the twentieth century.

On one of his visits to town, Karl met the local state commissioner. The commissioner told Karl that he had first-hand knowledge regarding Padre Pio’s gifts of reading hearts. One day, the commissioner went to the monastery to say goodbye to Padre Pio. He was going to be leaving his job in San Giovanni Rotondo in just a few days and another individual would soon be taking his place. Padre Pio smiled at the commissioner and said, “You are mistaken. You will not be leaving. You will stay in San Giovanni Rotondo for many months.” The commissioner was surprised at Padre Pio’s words. He did not want to disagree with him openly but he knew that Padre Pio was wrong. He had already received his transfer orders. However, a change was made at the last minute and the commissioner was asked to continue on with his job in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Karl enjoyed talking to the local citizens of San Giovanni Rotondo and he especially enjoyed the interesting stories they told him about Padre Pio. Karl learned that a blind woman had come to San Giovanni Rotondo from a long distance, hoping that her sight might be restored through contact with Padre Pio. When she finally had the opportunity to speak to Padre Pio, he said to her, “I cannot obtain the grace that you are asking for. But do not become discouraged, because you will soon be able to see.” The woman went away in great distress. She told the priest who had accompanied her on her journey that she had given up all hope of ever being able to see again. She kept thinking of Padre Pio’s words, “I cannot obtain the grace you are asking for.” She believed that Padre Pio had simply tried to pacify her when he told her that she would soon be able to see. But less than two hours later, while on the trip home, the woman suddenly regained her vision.

When Karl returned to his home in Rome, he spent many hours in church, praying to the Lord for enlightenment. He was trying to discern the path that God might be calling him to follow. He was very happy that he had been able to speak to Padre Pio one last time before leaving San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio told him that he would remember him in his prayers.

One day, when Karl was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, he saw two hands coming out of the tabernacle. The hands were holding a white habit with a red and blue cross on it. To his great surprise, the habit was coming toward him. He thought that his mind might be playing tricks on him. He closed his eyes and then opened them again. He rubbed his eyes to make sure that he was actually seeing what he thought he was seeing. It was true. It was not his imagination. He saw the white habit clearly and then finally, it disappeared.

Karl shared the unusual experience with his confessor. His confessor told him that there was a religious congregation called the Trinitarians who wore a white habit with a red and blue cross. His confessor then introduced him to the superior of the Trinitarians. Karl noticed that the habit the superior was wearing was identical to the one he had seen in the vision.

Karl realized that God had answered his prayers and had given him a clear sign of the vocation that he was to follow. He asked for admittance and was accepted into the Trinitarian Religious Order in Rome. He made simple vows and took the name, Brother Pio. He was sent to Canada where he made his solemn vows in 1924. Upon his ordination to the priesthood, he took the name Father Pio of the Most Holy Trinity. He felt Padre Pio’s loving presence helping him and guiding him in his priestly ministry. He always attributed the good that he was able to accomplish to Padre Pio’s intercession. Karl Klugkist (Father Pio of the Most Holy Trinity) died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1948 after a long and fruitful ministry in the Lord’s service.

I urge you to unite with me and draw near to Jesus with me, to receive his embrace and a kiss that sanctifies and saves us. . .Let us not cease then to kiss this divine Son in this way, for if these are the kisses we give him now, he himself will come to take us in his arms and give us the kiss of peace in the last sacraments at the hour of death. – St. Pio of Pietrelcina

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  Nicola Pazienza was a deeply religious man who was admired for his strong faith and outstanding moral character. He loved to pray the Rosary and took care to have his Rosary with him at all times. His friend, Antonio Di Maggio, was very much aware of Nicola’s deep piety. One day he suggested to Nicola that he make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. “There is a holy priest who has recently been transferred to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace,” Antonio said. “His name is Padre Pio. Many people believe that he is a saint. Since you are so religious, I think you should go and see him.”

Although Nicola had not heard of Padre Pio, he was familiar with Our Lady of Grace monastery. Regularly, the lay brothers from the monastery made their rounds in the small surrounding towns and villages, seeking any offerings of food or supplies that could be donated to the Capuchin community. They often knocked on Nicola’s door. The lay brothers from St. Matthew of the Crucifix monastery did the same. Nicola always welcomed the lay brothers and did what he could to help them.

Nicola told his wife Theresa what Antonio had shared with him about Padre Pio. With all her heart, Theresa wanted her husband to visit San Giovanni Rotondo in order to meet Padre Pio. Nicola too, was very impressed by what Antonio had told him. He wanted to visit the saintly priest but at the time he could not make any plans to do so. He had his wheat harvest to tend to and it happened to be the time when the wheat needed to be winnowed.

Through years of experience, Nicola became very proficient in farm work. After the wheat was harvested, he would winnow it by throwing it upward into the breeze. The heavy wheat would fall back to the ground and the chaff would then be blown away by the wind. For many days he had waited, but unfortunately there had been no wind.

Just as Nicola finished speaking to his wife about Padre Pio, a gentle breeze began to blow. He was then able to winnow the wheat and afterward, he stored it in his loft. When the task was completed, he mounted his mule, and with his Rosary in his hand, he headed for San Giovanni Rotondo.

When Nicola arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, he learned that in order to see Padre Pio, he would have to present either a letter of introduction or a special permit issued by the

A photo of Our Lady of Grace church from the early days when pilgrims went on horseback to visit Padre Pio.

local police. Nicola had no idea that such paperwork was necessary. He had neither a letter of introduction nor a permit. He didn’t think that he would have time to go to the police station and request a permit. His visit to Padre Pio’s monastery had to be a short one because his family was waiting for him to return home that very day. He decided to take a chance and try to enter the monastery without a permit.

Nicola noticed that a guard was standing watch in front of Our Lady of Grace monastery, monitoring all of the visitors who approached. When the guard saw that Nicola did not have a permit or a letter, he told him that he would not be able to see Padre Pio. Nicola was very disappointed. He had been looking forward with great anticipation to meeting him. As Nicola was speaking to the guard, one of the Capuchins came out of the church and motioned to Nicola. “Padre Pio would like to see you,” the Capuchin said to Nicola. Nicola was truly surprised. How could Padre Pio have possibly known that Nicola was standing outside, hoping to enter the monastery? They had never even met.

Nicola followed the Capuchin into the monastery and was soon standing in front of Padre Pio. “Oh, I see that you have arrived,” Padre Pio said. “Who did you come with and how long did it take you to get here?” Padre Pio asked. Once again, Nicola was caught by surprise. It certainly seemed as though Padre Pio had been expecting him. “It took me three hours to get here on my mule,” Nicola replied. “I came by myself.” “You got here in half the time it would take an ordinary person to make the trip,” Padre Pio said. “The reason why you made such good time is because you were accompanied by Jesus and Mary.” Nicola was becoming more astonished by the minute. Finally, he asked Padre Pio if he would give him a blessing and he was happy to do so. Nicola then kissed Padre Pio’s hand.

When Nicola returned to his home in the countryside, he told his wife Theresa all that had transpired. She was so amazed by her husband’s words that she began to cry. For Nicola, the graces from the short visit to Padre Pio would long endure.

As time went by, Nicola became concerned about the attitude of several of his neighbors. For a reason that Nicola did not know, they seemed to harbor feelings of jealousy and resentment toward him and his family. One day, when Brother Bernardino, a Capuchin lay brother from Our Lady of Grace, visited his home, Nicola told him about his concerns. He asked Brother Bernardino to take a message to Padre Pio for him. “Please tell Padre Pio that I am very worried because of the hostility of some of my neighbors. I am afraid that they might try to harm my family.” Brother Bernardino agreed to relay the message to Padre Pio.

The next time Brother Bernardino visited Nicola, he told him that he had spoken to Padre Pio about the situation. After he explained Nicola’s problem to Padre Pio, Padre Pio replied, “Tell Nicola to carry on just as he always has and not to worry. The neighbors will do him no harm because the Virgin Mary and the Guardian Angel are always with him.”

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. – Psalm 34:7

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry – Issue 56 – July – Sept 2013

Dreams of Padre Pio – Part III

 Download Newsletter Issue 56, July-September  2013

 

There was once a Capuchin Brother at Our Lady of Grace monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo who was assigned to help Padre Pio with many of his daily tasks. The Brother had a great devotion to Padre Pio and performed his work in an exemplary way. Every morning between 4:00 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. he would go to Padre Pio’s cell to assist him. The routine was always the same. Padre Pio would be sitting in his chair either reading his breviary or praying the Rosary. The Brother would then kiss his hand and proceed to straighten the covers on his bed and do other simple tasks 57-1webin his cell.

One night, the Brother had a terrible dream. In truth, it was a nightmare. In his dream, Padre Pio was elderly and very ill. He was withdrawn and hardly able to move or speak, and it seemed as though he was about to die. In the dream, there was also another Padre Pio. He was floating in the air high above and was smiling, suffused with a beautiful light. But the Padre Pio that was predominant was the suffering one. When the Brother woke up, he was so upset that he burst into tears. He thought that the dream might have been a premonition of the future. Perhaps as Padre Pio grew older, his sufferings would increase more and more.

The Brother’s dream occurred in 1957. Padre Pio’s hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering had just recently opened. Padre Pio was busy, not only with the many concerns of the hospital but also with the expansion of the Prayer Groups that he had founded. In addition, there was a steady flow of pilgrims who constantly poured into San Giovanni Rotondo in order to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and make their confession to him. While his heath was not the best, he was still able to accomplish a great deal of work each day. He seemed to have the necessary energy to do so.

The Brother could not get the disturbing dream out of his mind. He went to the little monastery chapel of Our Lady of Grace and with tears in his eyes, he prayed before the tabernacle. “Jesus, I beg you,” the Brother prayed. “Please do not let anything bad happen to our Padre Pio. He has already suffered so much. I know that he belongs to you but he belongs to us too and we love him. Do not let his sufferings increase. Give them to me instead. I don’t want Padre Pio to have to endure any more suffering.” After praying at length in the chapel, the Brother made a great effort to put the dream out of his mind. He decided not to tell anyone about it.

The next morning, the Brother was at Padre Pio’s door at the usual time of 4:30 a.m. Like always, he found Padre Pio sitting in his chair, reading his breviary and preparing for the early morning Mass. The brother greeted him and kissed his hand. Much to his great surprise, Padre Pio slowly rose for his chair to a standing position. Padre Pio then embraced him and said, “I want to thank you my son, for what you did for me last night!” Padre Pio had felt the prayers that the good Brother had offered up for him and he was very grateful.

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When Susanna Berghi’s son slipped into a coma, the doctor could not offer her any hope of his recovery. One day while at his bedside, Susanna fell asleep and dreamed of Padre Pio. The dream was very beautiful. There was one detail which particularly struck Susanna. Padre Pio blessed her son three times and said, “Bring him to me.” She awoke and saw that her son was conscious and that he no longer had a fever. He made a complete recovery.

 

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Tony Cavaliere was searching for truth and enlightenment through the comparative study of world religions. At the same time, he decided to add a number of spiritual disciplines to his daily routine. Instead of finding inner peace and fulfillment through such practices, he began to experience a growing sense of anxiety. Fear and apprehension became his constant companions. He went to various doctors, trying to find help but to no avail.

Tony experienced frequent anxiety attacks as well as dizzy spells. As time passed, his symptoms grew worse and finally became debilitating. He was no longer able to work and he wondered if he would ever be able to live a normal life again. When he learned about Padre Pio, his interest was sparked. He told his wife that he would like to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo so that he could pray at Padre Pio’s tomb. Although he was a fallen away Catholic, he was familiar with the Church’s teaching regarding the intercessory power of the saints.

Tony and his wife were finally able to make the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. They visited the monastic cell where Padre Pio had lived for many years. They were able to see the church where he had celebrated Mass and to pray at his tomb. Everywhere Tony looked, he saw familiar signs of faith and the tranquil surroundings gave him a feeling of great peace.

After Tony and his wife returned home, his sister-in-law told him that she had an unusual dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was hearing her confession. She spoke to him and said, “Why don’t you give Tony back his health?” Padre Pio smiled at her and said, “Tell Tony that he will be fine.” In the dream, Padre Pio was holding a blue pillow with a Rosary on it. “Give this Rosary to Tony,” Padre Pio said.

The dream gave Tony the assurance that he would recover from his debilitating illness. One year later, he was in good health and good spirits, free from all of the symptoms that had previously made him ill. He returned to the practice of his Catholic faith and also became very devoted to the Rosary. “I am dedicated to spreading the message of Padre Pio, the Rosary and the Catholic Church that brought me the peace of Christ,” Tony said.

 

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Settimo Manelli once had a dream in which she saw Padre Pio in the glory of heaven. His face was transfigured with a great beauty. Everything around Padre Pio shone with a marvelous light. Especially beautiful was the intense and vivid color of the blue sky.

The next morning Settimo went to Padre Pio’s Mass and afterward she told him about the dream. “Your face had such splendor in my dream,” Settimo said. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but as I look at you now, you do not look attractive. Your face has no signs of that glory which I saw in my dream.” Padre Pio smiled and said to her, “I do not look attractive?” About a year later, Settimo saw Padre Pio again. She was standing in the corridor of the monastery when he greeted her. He looked at her and said, “It certainly was beautiful, wasn’t it!”

 

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In order to provide a better life for his family, Andre Mandato decided to move with his wife and children from Bologna, Italy to the United States. He sent in his application and all of the necessary paperwork, requesting a permanent visa to the United States. One night, Andre dreamed that Padre Pio spoke to him and said that his application had been rejected. “Andre, if you turn in another application and choose a new sponsor, you will be accepted,” Padre Pio said in the dream. When Andre woke up, he could not stop thinking about Padre Pio’s words. Could it be true? That very afternoon, he learned that his application had been rejected. He followed Padre Pio’s advice by selecting a new sponsor. He also submitted another application and soon received a permanent visa for the entire family.

 

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One of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters was hired to work in the sewing room at Padre Pio’s hospital, the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Among many other projects that she worked on, she made the very first curtains for the hospital. She was able to have the curtains ready well before the hospital’s inauguration day on May 6, 1956. She also made the nurses uniforms as well as the operating room gowns for the doctors.

The woman had a great devotion to Padre Pio. She made several of his brown habits and whenever any of his habits needed alteration, she was called upon to do the work. She always counted it a great privilege. She also used to make the small cushions that Padre Pio rested his wounded hands on when he prayed for extended periods of time in the choir loft of the church. She chose green velvet for the material because it was a color that was restful to the eyes.

Once, when she was making her confession to Padre Pio, she told him about a dream she had. In her dream, Padre Pio was a newborn baby. He was a beautiful baby but already the marks of the stigmata were on his body. Especially vivid in the dream were the wounds on his hands. The woman asked Padre Pio what the dream might mean. Padre Pio’s face became sad and he said to her, “It means that Our Lord, Christ Crucified, has allowed you to see his wounds.”

 

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Little Raffaele Mazzone receives a blessing from Padre Pio while his father Vincenzo looks on.

Vincenzo Mazzone’s six-month-old son, Raffaele, became seriously ill in 1967. He suffered from a continuous high fever. He was seen by a number of doctors but they were not able to come to an agreement regarding a diagnosis. He was given varying treatments and medicines but his health did not improve. On the contrary, he was becoming weaker with each passing day.

During this time of uncertainty and anxiety regarding little Raffaele, Vincenzo’s wife had a dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was standing at a window, opening the curtains. He told her that little Raffaele should be in a place where the air was fresh. Then the dream was over. After she told her husband about the dream, they decided to make a trip from their home in Cerignola to San Giovanni Rotondo. Although it was difficult, they managed to get an immediate appointment with the pediatrician at the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

When the pediatrician examined Raffaele, he could find nothing wrong with him. His temperature was normal and he appeared to be in perfect health. Vincenzo and his wife were elated. The next evening, Vincenzo went to the sacristy of the church in order to thank Padre Pio for his intercession. As Padre Pio passed by, Vincenzo knelt down. He had little Raffaele in his arms and he held him up to Padre Pio. With a slight smile, Padre Pio stopped and gave little Raffaele a blessing.

 

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Some time ago, I had a very vivid dream whereby I saw a man with a dark robe on and a beard. In my dream, the man said to me, “I was wondering if you would like to become a nun, after your children are raised.” I told him that I did not think so. But I said that I did have some things that I wanted to do for God once my children were raised. He said to me, “But what are you planning to do for God right now?” Shortly after that dream, I went to confession to Father Solcia at Our Lady of the Rosary. At the end of the confession, Father Solcia handed me a prayer card and said, “Padre Pio is praying for you.” On the prayer card was a picture of the same man I had seen in my dream. Below the picture were the words, “Padre Pio.”

– Name Withheld

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My thirteen year old sister Bernadette was paralyzed from birth. She was very bright and very pretty. In the last year of her life she suffered great sickness and severe pain with very little sleep or rest. She always wore a relic of Padre Pio pinned to her vest. One morning, Bernadette told us that she had slept all night and that a lovely man appeared at her bedside during the night. She said he wore a long dress with a rope tied around the waist and he had a beard. He told her he was taking her away to a land where she would have no pain or sickness ever again. Upon hearing this, my mother became very upset. The man held her hand and she said she was not afraid because he was a holy man. Bernadette asked him to leave her here a little bit longer. She talked about the “holy man” all the time. As the days went by we all knew she had seen somebody because she seemed so peaceful. Six weeks later, on June 1, 1978 Bernadette died with no pain. Padre Pio appeared to my little sister and took away her fear of death and guided her gently from this world to the next.

– Elizabeth Reid

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After suffering for ten years, in December, 1983, I started the novena to Padre Pio. In February, my condition grew worse. My ankles became swollen and the pain was unbearable. On February 10th, I was healed in a dream. I was in a beautiful chapel and Padre Pio came to me. He told me to sit and then he touched my swollen ankles. He touched my back and then he said, “Get up and walk. You are healed.” I awoke immediately from my bed and I walked without a single pain in my body. That morning I attended Mass to thank our Lord. The pain came back, but only for a moment because soon what felt like a warm hand touched my back and took my pain away. I have never known that pain again.

– G. W. Collins

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Not long ago I had a dream in which I was driving in a car with my father. As we were driving, I told my father to stop in front of Our Lady of Sorrows parish because I wanted to go inside. Our Lady of Sorrows is a parish in my hometown of Kansas City but it is not the parish I attend. In my dream, as I entered the church, I saw a statue of a man with a brown robe and a beard. At the base of the statue were dozens of beautiful red roses. There was a kneeler in front of the statue and so I knelt down. The statue then spoke to me, teaching me how to pray. It was the most beautiful dream I have ever had in my life. I often though about the statue and wondered who it was. At Christmas, I received a book about Padre Pio and when I saw a picture of a statue of Padre Pio it was exactly like the one in my dream. Knowing that Padre Pio is helping me in my journey through life is a great consolation

– Michael Feierabend

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Once, while on a job-hunting trip, I checked into a motel for the night. Several people who were at the motel made me feel uneasy. I began to feel a concern for the safety of my car and I hoped that it would not be vandalized in the night. Before I went to bed, I prayed and asked Padre Pio to watch over me and protect me and also my car. That night, I had a dream. In the dream, I was laying on my right side, and Padre Pio came and shook me awake saying, “Brenda, I think you’d better get up now.” When I woke up, I was laying on my right side, just like in my dream. I looked at the clock and saw that it was 3:00 a.m. I was so groggy, that I fell asleep again. I then had a second dream in which Padre Pio shook me once again, saying with greater emphasis, “Brenda! You had better get up now!” At that, I got up and looked out the window. Sure enough, the two fellows who had concerned me after I checked in to the motel were at my car. One of them was under it! They left hastily when that saw me at the window. I am convinced that Padre Pio heard my prayer that night and came to my rescue.

-Brenda Zizzo

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My son Frankie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in July of 2005. He fought a long and hard battle against this illness for twenty seven months. He had four lung surgeries, amputation of his leg, radiation, and countless rounds of chemotherapy. He also developed a secondary cancer, leukemia. During his ordeal, Frankie kept hopeful and prayerful. He kept Jesus as the center of his life, and prayed to his patron saint, Padre Pio, whose picture he always kept with him. Frankie died on Sept. 14, 2007. He was 17 years old.

The morning of Frankie’s Mass of Christian Burial, my family and I were at the funeral home where there had been a public viewing of Frankie for two days. When it was almost time to say goodbye to my son and go to St. Ephrem’s in Brooklyn for the funeral Mass, I felt my strength failing me. I dreaded this final time, knowing I would never see my son again. At that moment I prayed to Padre Pio, begging him to help me.

The moment I finished my prayer, into the funeral home walked Ray Ewen. Ray had met Padre Pio in 1945 when he served in the U.S. military and was sent overseas to Italy. Ray has been a great promoter of Padre Pio ever since. Ray prayed for my son and he prayed for me. As he prayed, I felt a great sense of peace come over me and I received the strength I needed so badly. I know that Ray’s presence was an answer to my prayer. Ray does not live close by but he told me that when he woke up that morning he felt a very strong urge to get to the funeral home and see Frankie. It was not easy for him but he managed to find a ride with a close friend who was also very devoted to Padre Pio.

The celebrant of Frankie’s funeral Mass was Father Gerard Sauer. He was joined by four others priests and over 1000 people attended. Two beautiful eulogies were said, one by Frankie’s best friend, Gennaro Anzalone and the other by Dr. Joseph Marino, the Principal of Frankie’s school, Xaverian High School in Brooklyn. Dr. Marino told all present about Frankie’s faith in God and his devotion to Padre Pio.

It wasn’t long afterward that I had a vivid dream about my son. In my dream, Frankie looked well and he was breathing easily. I thought that he was alive again. He let me know that he was in Heaven and only back to speak to me for a moment. He told me that he was in a place that was so beautiful that it was impossible to describe. He also told me he was with other children. I asked him if Padre Pio was there. Frankie looked at me and said, “Padre Pio was there to meet me when I arrived.”

– Camille Loccisano

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In July of 1992, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. I went through 6 months of chemotherapy. One night my son asked me if I had ever heard of Padre Pio and he told me a little bit about him from a program he had seen on television. My son is not very religious but was quite taken with this man at the time. Sometime shortly after this I had a dream. In my dream I was out walking alone and saw a group of people. I made my way toward them. As I approached, the others seemed to vanish and the back of this man, whom I thought was Jesus, drew me closer. As I went to speak, the man turned around. At first I saw his gentle face and then his eyes. Rays shot from his eyes and went through me. I woke up. My friend gave me a prayer card of Padre Pio. Imagine my surprise when I looked and saw that it was the man in my dream. I told my friend of my dream and she saw it as a sign of healing from my cancer. I’ve thought of that ever since. I just finished my first year of tests and the cancer shows no signs of recurrence.

– Pat Yanics

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I recently had a very vivid dream in which I was walking with a man who was carrying a lantern. He was limping slightly as he walked and his posture was somewhat bent. He had a serious demeanor and I noticed that he seemed to be in a hurry. He spoke to me in Italian and said that a very important day was coming soon. I understood the Italian words in my dream even though I do not speak the language. Then the dream ended.

I told my good friend Tony Fajardo about the dream and he then showed me a picture of Padre Pio. There was no doubt about it. He was the man I had seen in my dream. I knew practically nothing about Padre Pio. Tony had told me on a previous occasion that he had the stigmata. That was the extent of my knowledge. I had never seen a photo of Padre Pio before. I did not even know that he was from Italy.

In my dream, I felt that Padre Pio was proud of me for finally realizing that the Catholic faith was destined to be a part of my life. This month I am going to begin to take classes so that I can be confirmed. In the dream, when Padre Pio said that an important date was coming up, I thought that he might be talking about his birthday. But since then, I have learned that he received the Stigmata on Sept 20 and that his feast day is September 23. I had the dream on September 6.

– Nicholas Beattie

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I lost my only son very tragically last year. I was very troubled as to whether my son was happy in his new dwelling. I prayed faithfully and daily to Padre Pio for some sign from my son. One night my son came to me in a dream and told me that God was very just and that he, my son, was happier than he had ever been on earth. I feel that this was more than a dream.

– Mrs. Feeney

 

Your sole concern should be the establishment of God’s reign in your heart, in this life and in the next. In this life, your study should be to bring about this reign of God, in your heart by his grace and through the plentitude of his love. You should live for God alone, and the life of your soul should be the life of God himself. You ought likewise to nourish yourself with God by thinking of his holy presence as often as you possibly can. That which constitutes the life of the saints is precisely their continual attention to God and this also should form the life of those who . . . seek only to accomplish his holy will, to love him and so make others love him.

– St. John Baptiste de la Salle

 

 

Books from Padre Pio Devotions
bookcoverPray, Hope, and Don’t Worry:True Stories of Padre Pio Book I  – written by Diane Allen, published by Padre Pio Press, and available at amazon.com  Click on the “Books” link at padrepiodevotions.org for more information.

 

Book2dpi300BwebPray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II
written by Diane Allen, published by Padre Pio Press,and available at amazon.com  Click on the “Books” link at padrepiodevotions.org for more information.

 

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 53 – October-December 2012

Download Newsletter Issue 53, October-December 2012

Today we live in an activist society. We do many things, but we pray little. Padre Pio’s watchword was this: prayer and suffering. On these two foundations, Padre Pio built everything. And not only did he build materially, as in the Home for the Relief of Suffering, but also, he built in the souls of his followers. He truly built that which St. Augustine called “the city of God.”

– Piero Bargellini 

Elide Bellomo

Elide Bellomo holds out her hand to greet Padre Pio

Elide Bellomo holds out her hand to Padre Pio

Elide Bellomo was a dressmaker by trade and lived in Sestri Levante, a resort town not far from Genoa, Italy. When Elide’s aunt became terminally ill, Elide tried to show her as much love and support as she could. Elide’s aunt wanted to be well prepared spiritually when her final moment came. She had always had a fear of death. She showed Elide a holy card of Padre Pio and spoke to her often of him. “Please pray to Padre Pio so that I might have a happy death,” she would frequently say. Because her aunt spoke so much about Padre Pio, Elide decided to make a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would ask Padre Pio in person to pray for her aunt. Elide knew how pleased her aunt would be to hear of her plan.

In February 1947, Elide set out for San Giovanni Rotondo. She took a train from Sestri Levante to Foggia and did not arrive in Foggia until the following evening. When the train pulled into the station, she learned that she had just missed the last bus that was going to San Giovanni Rotondo. She would have to wait until the following day for the next bus. She was so disappointed at the news that she began to cry. Elide was exhausted from the thirty-hour journey. The train had been so crowded that she had to stand for most of the trip. In addition, not anticipating the winter weather, she had not dressed properly. She had been cold and uncomfortable since the time she had left her home.

The station master noticed Elide’s tears and asked her why she was crying. When she explained her frustrations to him, he took pity on her and led her to a small private room in the station. “You can sleep in here for the night,” the station master said. “The chair will be more comfortable to sleep in that the bench in the lobby. The stove will keep you warm. I will close the door so that no one will bother you. We will be sure to wake you up early in the morning so that you can catch the bus for San Giovanni Rotondo.”

The next morning, Elide was in better spirits. She boarded the bus and was happy to be on her way. The weather grew colder as the bus approached San Giovanni Rotondo. When the bus dropped her off, it was a two-mile walk through the snow in order to reach the monastery. Elide regretted that she had brought only a light jacket to wear. She also regretted that she was wearing sandals and had no other change of shoes.

The following day, Elide went to Padre Pio’s Mass. After Mass, she waited in line to make her confession. When she heard Padre Pio’s stern voice speaking to a penitent in the confessional, she lost her courage and decided to leave the line. Just as she was preparing to leave, the woman behind her gave her a strong push forward. Soon she was kneeling before Padre Pio. Fear clutched at her heart. Padre Pio’s voice was very gentle as he talked to her. It reminded her exactly of the way her own dear father used to talk to her when she was a little girl. As a matter of fact, Padre Pio used many of the same phrases that her father had used in days gone by.

Padre Pio visiting patients in the Home for the Relief of Suffering

Padre Pio visiting patients in the Home for the Relief of Suffering

Elide told Padre Pio that she had traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo from Sestri Levanti in order to ask for prayers for her aunt. “First make your confession, and then tell me about your aunt,” Padre Pio said. Elide started to make her confession but she could not find her words. Padre Pio helped her through the confession by asking her questions.

After the confession, Elide asked Padre Pio if he would accept her as his spiritual daughter. It was not something that she had planned to say. “Yes, I will accept you,” he answered. Then he asked Elide to tell him about her aunt. Elide told him of her aunt’s fear of death and of her desire to be well prepared when that moment came. Padre Pio listened carefully to all that Elide had to say. When she was finished talking, Padre Pio paused for a few moments of silence. “All will go well for your aunt,” Padre Pio said. He told Elide that she could be assured of his prayers.

Elide left the confessional greatly uplifted. All the inconveniences and hardships of the journey to San Giovanni Rotondo now seemed like trifles. The next day she left to go back to her home in Sestri Levante. A short time later, her aunt passed away. She had just received Holy Communion and was making her thanksgiving when she slipped peacefully into eternal life. It was truly a beautiful death. Elide knew that Padre Pio’s prayers had assisted her aunt.

Meeting Padre Pio had made a great impression on Elide and she looked forward with great anticipation to the time when she could make a return visit. Several months later she was able to make another trip to San Giovanni Rotondo. “You are going to move here permanently,” Padre Pio said to Elide. “When the Home for the Relief of Suffering is completed, you will work there.” “Oh no,” Elide replied emphatically, “It would be impossible. I am a dressmaker by profession. I have no skills that would enable me to work in a hospital. Besides, my mother needs me. I would never be able to leave her.” Very gently Padre Pio said to her, “I will take care of your mother myself.” “But if my mother was to get sick, she would want me nearby.” “I will take care of that too,” Padre Pio replied. “You do not have to worry about anything. The hospital is now being built. You will come here and work. It is God’s will for you,” Padre Pio said firmly.

Elide knew that she would never move to San Giovanni Rotondo. It was a small backwater town that had nothing to offer her. Sestri Levante, on the other hand, where Elide made her home, was a lovely seaside resort city on the Mediterranean coast. The weather was mild and agreeable and the coastline was beautiful. Surrounded by her family and friends, Elide was very happy there. She had no intention of moving to San Giovanni Rotondo. She was convinced that only an act of God would cause her to leave her home town.

When Elide returned to Sestri Levante, she began organizing pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo. She wanted others to experience the same blessings that she had experienced while visiting Padre Pio’s monastery. Elide’s pilgrimages became very popular. She took small groups as well as large groups and had no trouble filling the seats.

On one occasion, when Elide was in San Giovanni Rotondo, she got word that her mother was ill. She returned to Sestri Levanti immediately. Fortunately, her mother’s condition had improved by the time she arrived home. Her mother had always said that she wanted Elide to be with her at the time of her death. She said to Elide, “I am at peace now. Even if I were to die soon, I feel prepared. I think Padre Pio is calling you to live near him. He needs you to help him with his work. I want you to move to San Giovanni Rotondo and assist him.” Not long after that, Elide’s mother had a beautiful dream. In her dream, Padre Pio was standing at the foot of her bed and he gave her a blessing. She died the very next day.

Elide was deeply saddened by the loss of her mother. She returned to San Giovanni Rotondo and wept as she told Padre Pio about her mother’s death. “What am I going to do now?” Elide said to Padre Pio. “My mother, whom I loved so much, is gone. How will I continue?” “I am now your entire family – mother, father, and brother,” Padre Pio replied. “Your mother is in heaven. We must do our very best so that we too can arrive there someday. Let us concentrate on that.” His words brought her great comfort and great peace.

Elide moved to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1954. Two years later, the Home for the Relief of Suffering opened its doors. Padre Pio told Elide for the second time that she was going to work in the new hospital. “But I can’t,” Elide said. “I don’t have the experience.” Very quietly Padre Pio said to Elide, “Just do what you are told.”

The first day that Elide reported for work at the Home for the Relief of Suffering, she was greeted by a doctor and was given a white coat to put on, just like the one that he had on. The doctor gave her instructions on how to admit the patients and how to fill out the necessary forms and paperwork. Elide was able to learn the job quite easily. After about an hour of instruction, the doctor left her on her own. She found the work very enjoyable.

At the time, Elide was renting a single room, which was located very close to the hospital. A very nice little house became available for rent and Padre Pio told Elide that she should take it. Elide explained to Padre Pio that her salary at the hospital was not enough to cover the monthly rent. “Take the house,” Padre Pio said. “You will always have enough money for your needs with extra left over.” Elide rented the house. As it turned out, Padre Pio had been right. Elide was able to pay the rent each month with money left over.

Elide loved her job as admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. She was happy to be serving Padre Pio’s work. When she was asked to do the washing and ironing for the Capuchins who were in residence at Our Lady of Grace monastery, she gladly accepted the task.

One day, as Elide was doing the laundry for the Capuchins, she had the idea to keep one of Padre Pio’s undershirts. She knew that there were very strict rules in place regarding Padre Pio’s personal items. He was not allowed to give any of his possessions away. Elide knew that she could get into a lot of trouble for disobeying the rules. But the temptation to keep an article of Padre Pio’s clothing was so great that Elide gave in to her strong desire. One day, she sent the freshly laundered clothing and habits back to the monastery minus one of Padre Pio’s shirts.

The next time Elide went to confession to Padre Pio, she was very nervous. She hoped that he would not guess what she had done and at the same time she knew that it was practically impossible to keep a secret from him. In the confessional, Padre Pio’s first words to Elide were the words that she did not want to hear. “Have you stolen something that belonged to someone else?” he asked. “It is true,” Elide answered. “What is it that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “I stole a shirt,” Elide replied. “You stole a shirt? Well, who did it belong to?” Padre Pio inquired. “It belonged to you.” At that point, Elide could not contain her emotions any longer and she began to cry. “Well, did you need this shirt that you stole?” Padre Pio asked. “Oh yes, I did need it. I truly needed it,” Elide answered. “Very well then,” Padre Pio said and then he changed the subject. “Now tell me what else you have been doing,” he exclaimed. He never mentioned the “stolen property” to her again. Elide was elated. She was able to keep the prized relic and all thanks were due to Padre Pio.

One morning, Elide was standing outside the church waiting for the doors to open for Mass. Two women who were standing nearby were having a lively discussion and Elide could not help but overhear what they were talking about. “I am going to send my guardian angel to Padre Pio,” one of the women said. “I will ask my angel to take a special message to him.” Elide thought that the talk about guardian angels was ridiculous. The women were obviously superstitious. When the Mass was concluded, Elide made her confession to Padre Pio. “Will you always assist me?” Elide asked him. “Yes, I will,” Padre Pio replied. “I will always be near you and I will send you my guardian angel to help you.” Elide realized that Padre Pio was trying to show her the error in her thinking. She was sorry she had judged the women in such a harsh way.

Padre Pio’s spiritual children who resided in San Giovanni Rotondo were fortunate to be able to receive Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Often before doing the simplest tasks, like going to an appointment or making a trip to town, they would ask Padre Pio for his blessing. In the late afternoons when Padre Pio took his recreation in the monastery garden, Elide would sometimes stand outside the garden wall and call to him, “Padre Pio, I am right outside the garden gate here. May I have your blessing?” Padre Pio would then open the gate, make the sign of the cross in blessing over Elide and then close the gate. Very satisfied, Elide would take her leave, usually to go back to her job at the hospital.

Receiving an individual blessing from Padre Pio was curtailed in 1960 with the visitation of Monsignor Carlo Maccari. Monsignor Maccari was sent to San Giovanni Rotondo from the Holy Office in Rome to investigate complaints that had been made against Padre Pio. There had been accusations in reference to possible financial irregularities at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. There were complaints regarding the unruly behavior in the church on the part of some of the pilgrims. There were complaints about Padre Pio himself. Numerous rumors about him had been circulating for years. Elide was working at the Home for the Relief of Suffering when Monsignor Maccari made his visitation.

Monsignor Maccari stayed at the Home for the Relief of Suffering during the time of his visit. Much to the dismay of the Capuchin superior at Our Lady of Grace monastery, he took it upon himself to intercept Padre Pio’s personal mail and read it. Even confidential letters were opened and scrutinized. It seemed as though Monsignor Maccari had brought with him certain preconceived ideas and even prejudices against Padre Pio. Before he returned to Rome, he set forth a number of directives that were to be strictly enforced. People would no longer be allowed to speak to Padre Pio as he was entering or exiting the confessional. The sacristy and the monastery garden became off limits to all members of the laity. A railing was to be built around the women’s confessional to make it more difficult for people to see and to speak to Padre Pio.

Padre Pio never contested the decisions of high church officials in reference to his ministry. He was very much aware that there was open hostility toward him. He would not speak to anyone about Monsignor Maccari’s visit and just as he had done in the past, he followed all of the directives to the letter.

Elide felt very sad about the restrictions that had been put in place as a consequence of the visit of Monsignor Maccari. Like many others, Elide depended on Padre Pio’s daily blessing. Now it seemed as though it would be practically impossible to greet Padre Pio each day and to receive his blessing. Elide came up with a solution to the problem and she spoke to Padre Pio about it. She told him that when he went to the garden in the afternoon for his recreation period, she would be standing on the other side of the wall. Of course, he would not be able to see her but she would be able to look through the keyhole of the gate and see him. “I would like you to pause as you pass by the garden gate and give me a blessing,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I will be waiting there.” Padre Pio was happy to agree to Elide’s request. Elide continued to receive his daily blessing, “through the garden wall” and Padre Pio did not break a single rule in doing so.

On January 30, 1964, Pope Paul VI announced that Padre Pio was restored to full freedom in his priestly ministry. Like many times in the past, it had been a waiting game. The accusations and complaints against him were eventually all shown to be false.

Padre Pio continued to direct his spiritual children step by step on the path toward holiness. Once, Elide’s brother surprised her by giving her a television set as a gift. She was delighted to receive it. When she told Padre Pio the good news about her new gift, he was not at all pleased. “I am sorry that you have invited the devil into your home!” Padre Pio said adamantly. Elide was shocked at his words. However, she could see that he meant what he said. Elide got the message loud and clear and decided to return the television to her brother.

Elide became very proficient as the hospital receptionist and admitting clerk at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. One day without warning, Padre Pio told her that her job was going to be changed. She would become the hospital’s switchboard operator. The hospital had grown and expanded so much that a central switchboard had to be installed. Elide panicked at the thought of being in charge of a busy switchboard. “But I can’t do that,” Elide said to Padre Pio. “I have no experience. I don’t think I would be up to the task. I am afraid that it would be too difficult.” “I want you to do what I am asking of you,” Padre Pio said. Elide complied with Padre Pio’s wishes and a technician trained her in the work. The ease with which she learned the job convinced her that Padre Pio was assisting her.

After Padre Pio’s death in 1968, Elide continued to live on in the little house in San Giovanni Rotondo, the one that Padre Pio had urged her to rent. The house had a lovely garden in the back which she enjoyed very much. She was very contented there. She eventually retired from her job at the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Padre Pio had assured Elide that her needs would always be supplied. Time proved the truth of his words. Elide never lacked for anything. She felt blessed that she was able to give the extra money that she had at the end of each month to those who were less fortunate. She truly believed that Padre Pio was watching over her from heaven.

 

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A Testimony

I visited San Giovanni Rotodo on January 20, 1960. It was a Sunday and I was spurred on by the usual irresistible desire to be near Padre Pio again for a few days. In the sacristy of the new church, I noticed for the first time, posters everywhere, asking for blood donors for the Home for the Relief of Suffering. Those who were sick in Padre Pio’s hospital were in need of blood transfusions.

My desire to donate blood was so great that my first impulse was to go to the Home for the Relief of Suffering at once. But then I remembered how I had recently had an operation for a perforated ulcer and had nearly died. I also had very low blood pressure as well as pain in my gall bladder. I decided to talk it over with Padre Pio.

That morning and I told Padre Pio that I wanted to be a blood donor for his hospital. He searched me with his penetrating eyes and then kindly with that strong voice of his, and almost a demanding tone, said to me, “Well, what are you waiting for?”

At the hospital, the doctor examined me and asked a number of questions. When he measured my blood pressure and saw how low it was, he explained that I would not be able to be a donor. “Doctor,” I said to him, “I asked Padre Pio about it a few moments ago and he sent me over here.” I had great belief in Padre Pio and the doctor did as well. He allowed me to give my blood.

As I continued to donate my blood to the Home for the Relief of Suffering, my blood pressure improved and the pain in my gall bladder began to disappear. In other words, the more blood I gave, the better my health became. I was able to make fifty-two blood donations for the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

– Donato di Ge

 

 

“It is in time that I am able to do good to my neighbor, that I am able to love and help him… It is only along the path of my passing days that I am able to meet the suffering soul and to give a word of comfort and hope. Time is valuable, because it offers me the possibility to do good. Certainly upright Christian sentiment, knowledge, love and praise of God will continue in eternity, but they will be proportional to our knowledge, love and praise in time… Time is valuable because it offers me the possibility to prepare myself for eternity.”
                     – Father Gerardo di Flumeri

Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry – Issue 55 – April-June 2013

Download Newsletter Issue 55, April-June  2013

Dreams of Padre Pio –  Part II

Lina Fiorellini receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio

Lina Fiorellini receiving Holy Communion from Padre Pio

Lina Fiorellini met Padre Pio in 1919. At that time, Lina was employed by the Pontremoli family. Lina thought very highly of the family and felt blessed that she could work for them. She spoke to Padre Pio and asked him to always keep the Pontremoli family in his prayers. “They are good people,” Padre Pio replied. “I will remember them before the Lord and pray to Jesus for their salvation.” Lina often shared her Catholic faith with Lucia Pontremoli and her son, Aldo. Although they were not Christians, they listened to Lina with great interest and respect. Lina also told them many stories about Padre Pio.

Aldo, who was a professor at the University of Milan, was preparing to go on an expedition to the North Pole. The whole world was following the upcoming expedition with great anticipation. It was scheduled for the spring of 1928. Shortly before Aldo and the crew left for the North Pole, they were granted an audience with Pope Pius XI. Aldo was so inspired by meeting the Pope that he sought out a Catholic priest and asked for baptism. Several days later, he left on the expedition. Tragically, Aldo lost his life, as did the other crew members, when the airship they were traveling in collided into ice.

A few months after Aldo’s death, Lina had a vivid dream. In her dream, Aldo spoke to her and said, “I owe my salvation to you and to Padre Pio.” He then kissed her on the forehead. The next time Lina went to San Giovanni Rotondo, she told Padre Pio about the dream. “Was Aldo speaking the truth to me in my dream?” Lina asked. “Yes, your dream was true,” Padre Pio replied. “Aldo went from the North Pole to Paradise!”

Lina continued to pray for Aldo’s mother, Lucia Pontremoli. Padre Pio encouraged Lina to offer up all of her sufferings for the conversion of souls, including Lucia’s. On Holy Thursday 1946, Lucia asked for baptism. Padre Pio was filled with joy when Lina told him the good news. Lina and Padre Pio had both been praying for Lucia for more than twenty-five years.

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There was a woman (name withheld) who was married to a very successful businessman. Soon after their marriage, her husband became cold and indifferent. When he got home from work in the evenings, he hardly spoke to her. Whenever he could find the chance to get away, he would leave the house and not return until very late in the evening. Feeling neglected and alone, the woman became very depressed. She prayed for a solution to the problem.

 

The woman possessed a holy card of Padre Pio. On one particular day, feeling the painful reality of her situation, she took the holy card in her hand and prayed, “Padre Pio, I am very sad about the state of my marriage. Please wake my husband up and help him to change. Come to him in a dream or do whatever is necessary, in order to shake him out of his indifference toward me. Show him the error of his ways. Please save our marriage!” Even though the woman knew practically nothing about Padre Pio, she was glad that she had prayed to him and asked for his help.

That evening her husband returned home very late as usual and during the night he had a strange dream. In his dream, he was in a beautiful building. It looked like a brand-new hospital and it had a lovely marble staircase. As he walked down the staircase, he saw five monks who were coming up the staircase toward him. Each one was wearing a brown habit. Following behind them was a sixth monk. The five monks walked past him but the sixth one stopped in front of him. The monk looked at him sternly and then raised his hand in a warning gesture. At once, the man thought of his wife and how badly he had been treating her. He recognized the monk who had looked at him in such a severe manner. It was Padre Pio.

The man felt shaken by the dream. He suddenly felt remorseful for his conduct toward his wife. The dream had seemed so real that it woke him up out of a sound sleep. He could hardly wait to tell his wife about it.

The next morning, the man knelt down at his wife’s bedside. He gently touched her hair in a caress in order to waken her. He spoke to her with great tenderness and asked for forgiveness for his coldness and for his neglect. She could hardly believe it. He had not spoken to her with such affection since they were first married. Moreover, she had never known her husband to apologize for anything. To see him kneeling at her bedside was perhaps the greatest surprise of all. Because of his pride, he was definitely not the kind of man to get down on his knees for any reason whatsoever.

Later, the woman made a trip to San Giovanni Rotondo and was able to visit the Home for the Relief of Suffering. The hospital was beautiful in every way. She noticed the wide and attractive marble staircase near the entrance. She remembered her husband had told her that in his dream, he had been in a beautiful hospital that had a marble staircase. Because of the dream of Padre Pio, her husband made a great effort to change. Their marriage was blessed with happiness from that time forward.

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Antonio Ciannamea traveled to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio on many occasions. He always felt it a privilege when he could visit Padre Pio in his cell. On one occasion, Antonio had an unusual dream. In his dream, Padre Pio was sitting in his customary chair in his cell and Antonio was kneeing beside him. Through Antonio’s parted lips, Padre Pio placed a tube and breathed into it three times. Padre Pio’s cheeks swelled as he blew the air into the tube. When Antonio felt Padre Pio’s breath, he experienced a great sense of well-being. Padre Pio then said to him, “Go with God’s grace.” With that, Antonio woke up.

For the most part, Antonio did not believe in the symbolism of dreams. But because the dream of Padre Pio had seemed so real, Antonio felt that it held a message. Exactly what that message was, he did not know. When he told his wife about the dream, she became worried. She told him to be careful when he was at work because to her, the dream seemed to be a kind of warning.

That day, Antonio visited a number of the different departments in the factory where he worked. About six tons of molten lead were about to be turned into the framework for the batteries of electricity accumulators. Some of the employees were busy cleaning extra filaments from the frameworks. At the same time, the conveyer belt was bringing lead bars forward for collection and loading.

The head factory technician had a piece of tube that he was placing into the lead. Suddenly, a shower of boiling lead flashed through the air. It reminded Antonio of a burst of violent machine gun fire. The solidified lead landed on Antonio’s hair, clothing and shoes. Antonio was filled with terror, but to his great relief not a drop had touched his skin. He was unhurt. The employees who were nearby and had witnessed the near fatal accident, told Antonio how lucky he was to have escaped injury.

That night, Antonio had another dream about Padre Pio. In his dream, Padre Pio was standing at the altar in his priestly vestments as Antonio knelt before him. Padre Pio turned to Antonio, blessed him and said, “Let us give thanks to God!”

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There was a man from Italy (name withheld) who was brought up in a good Catholic family, but when he grew older he left his faith far behind him. When asked what he believed in, he said simply, “nothing.” He became a self-declared atheist. The man married and had a family but secretly he was living a double life. He was unfaithful to his wife and had no desire to change.

One night, when the man was at a hotel with his girlfriend, he surprised himself and those around him by suddenly stating that he was leaving. He told his friends that he was going to drive to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio. All of the people who were with him thought that he was joking. Everyone knew that he was not the kind of person who would be interested in visiting a priest. The odd thing was, the man knew almost nothing about Padre Pio. Perhaps he had heard a few facts about Padre Pio’s life somewhere along the way, but there was nothing concrete that he could remember. Why he would suddenly have the overpowering urge to visit Padre Pio was a complete mystery.

It was about 2:30 a.m. when the man left the hotel. As he walked through the lobby toward the exit door, the hotel doorman asked him where he was going at such an hour. “I am driving to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio,” the man exclaimed.  The doorman was well aware of the worldly life that the man led. “But why would you want to go to a monastery in the middle of the night? What is the attraction?” the doorman asked. The man could offer no explanation. He did not understand it himself.

The man arrived at the monastery of Our Lady of Grace before sunrise and waited patiently in the darkness for the church to open. When Padre Pio began his Mass, the man became completely absorbed in it. All through the Mass, he experienced a wonderful feeling, something that he could not explain because he had never experienced it before. After the Mass, one of the Capuchins came up to him and asked him if he wanted to go to confession to Padre Pio. The thought had not even entered his mind, but since the Capuchin had suggested it to him, he decided that it was a good idea.

In the confessional, Padre Pio said to him, “It has been a long time since your last confession, hasn’t it. How long has it been?” “It has been fourteen or fifteen years,” the man replied. “Oh no, it has been a lot longer than that!” Padre Pio said. “What you want from me, I cannot give you. You must go to another who will give it to you.” The man had no idea what Padre Pio was talking about.

The man left without making his confession. He had not even received a blessing from Padre Pio and yet, he felt very happy and very satisfied. He was grateful that he had been able to speak to Padre Pio for those few moments in the confessional and attending the Mass had been a beautiful experience, more than he ever imagined. He left San Giovanni Rotondo greatly uplifted and knew that he wanted to return again.

Shortly after that, the man had a dream. In his dream, he saw Padre Pio walking down a staircase toward him. He was accompanied by another person who was dressed in white. Padre Pio took a folded paper from the pocket of his habit and handed it to the man. The words, “St. Alphonsus Liguori” were written on the paper. Then the man woke up. The man frequently thought about the dream and wondered about its meaning.

A short time later, a nun who lived in the same town as the man, asked him for a favor. She needed a ride to Foggia and wondered if he might be able to take her there. He was happy to assist her. On the way to Foggia, he told her about his dream and asked her what she thought it meant. “Perhaps it means that Padre Pio would like you to carry a picture of St. Alphonsus Liguori with you,” the nun said.  Not long after, the nun brought him a picture of St. Alphonsus Liguori. The man was astonished to find that the picture was inside of a folded paper that was identical to the size and shape of the paper that Padre Pio had given to him in his dream. He carried the little picture with him at all times.

The nun told the man that St. Alphonsus had lived in the town of Pagani at the Redemptorist House. Many of his relics were still preserved and venerated there. She thought it would be meaningful for the man to visit the Redemptorist House and encouraged him to do so. He decided to follow the nun’s advice and shortly after that he made a trip to Pagani.

At the Redemptorist House, the man asked to see a priest. Soon the resident priest came out and greeted him kindly. He showed him the chapel and the various relics of St. Alphonsus. He also showed him the room that St. Alphonsus had lived in. As the man stood in St. Alphonsus’ room, he suddenly felt a strong desire to go to confession. Almost as if reading the man’s mind, the priest said to him, “Would you like to go to confession?” “I would like very much to do so,” the man replied. At that moment, he remembered the words that Padre Pio had spoken to him, “What you want from me, I can’t give you. You must go to another who will give it to you.” The man was convinced that the priest who was standing before him was the one whom Padre Pio was referring to when he said, “You must go to another.”

The man knelt down and made a sincere confession. Unashamedly, he cried throughout the lengthy confession. The priest was so moved by the man’s confession that he cried along with him. After the confession, the priest took him to the chapel where he gave him Holy Communion.

The man realized that Padre Pio had been leading him back to God, one step at a time. On his first visit to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, he had been totally unprepared to approach the sacraments. But now, he was a completely changed person. He had a great desire to see Padre Pio again. When the man returned to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace, Padre Pio greeted him with love and called him his son. They were words to treasure. He made his confession to Padre Pio and received absolution. He returned on many more occasions to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace.

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Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis

Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis

Father Placido of San Marco in Lamis and Padre Pio were fellow students and close companions in the Capuchin novitiate and their friendship became even deeper with the passage of time. Padre Pio was like a brother to Father Placido. After Padre Pio’s death on September 23, 1968, Father Placido wondered if perhaps his own time on earth might be drawing to a close. He spoke about it to Father Alberto D’Apolito. Father Alberto assured Father Placido that he was indeed healthy and would surely live for many more years. But Father Placido could not be convinced.

Not long after that, Father Placido told Father Alberto that he had a dream of Padre Pio. In the dream,Padre Pio said, “Father Placido, you must prepare yourself. You will be joining me very soon.” “Will I be joining you in a few more years?” Father Placido asked. “No,” Padre Pio replied. “You will be joining me in just a little while. You will not see the end of this year.” Father Placido died on December 25, 1968. He did not see the end of the year.

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There was once a woman (name withheld) who, due to deeply-rooted psychological problems, had not been out of her house for twenty-five years. In all of those years, she had not seen her brother. Finally, her brother contacted one of the relatives and found his sister’s address. It was then that he learned the particulars of her problems. One night the woman had a dream about a saintly looking priest who smiled at her. Also, one afternoon she noticed the fragrance of roses in her home. One day, the homebound woman summoned up the necessary courage and was able to leave the house and go to Mass. Afterward, she found a magazine about Padre Pio and purchased it. She recognized him as the priest she had seen in her dream. Finally, her dear brother visited her. He told her that he had been praying to Padre Pio so that she would regain her confidence.

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Tom Dunne had a motorcycle accident and his left hand was damaged as a result. From that time forward, he always had pain in his hand. Tom began to pray the novena to Padre Pio every day. One night before Tom went to bed, he was reading a book on Padre Pio. The book told a story of a woman who asked Padre Pio if she could suffer some of the pain that he was suffering. Padre Pio said to her, “If you had even a part of the pain that I have, you would die.” Tom then said a prayer to Padre Pio with all the sincerity of his heart. “Padre Pio,” Tom prayed, “I have chronic pain in my hand. My hands are important to me, but nevertheless, I would never ask you to suffer my pain.” At that time, Tom had been enduring the pain in his hand for ten years. Not long after, Tom had a dream in which he saw Jesus and Padre Pio smiling at him. When he woke up, the pain in his left hand was gone, never to return.

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There was a woman (name withheld) whose financial problems became so serious that bankruptcy seemed inevitable. She had worked diligently to make a success of the family business but no matter what she did, it failed to turn a profit. Her brother Louis ran the ice cream manufacturing side of the business. He put in very long hours and was accustomed to working seven days a week. When Louis passed away, some of the other family members took over his part of the work. Unfortunately, the business went from bad to worse. Finally, the woman decided to sell it and pay off the bank loan and the debts that had accumulated. It was the only way she could avoid bankruptcy. About that time, the woman had a beautiful dream. In her dream, she saw Padre Pio who looked very happy. Padre Pio and her brother Louis were together. “Everything is all right now,” Padre Pio said to her in the dream.

From that day forward, the business prospered. There was a steady increase in customers to the extent that the woman had to buy more equipment and additional refrigerators. More employees had to be hired as well. Truly, Padre Pio had been watching over his spiritual children.

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Lilia Glorioso was the leader of a prayer group in Castelbuono, Italy. In 1972, she and her husband were preparing to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. They were happy that all five of their children could be present for the joyful occasion. The anniversary celebration turned out to be a wonderful success. One of their daughters, Marianna, was returning to her home in Palermo right after the celebration. Marianna’s fiancé and two other friends were traveling with her. On the trip home, Marianna’s fiancé fell asleep at the wheel and their car crashed into a wall. Tragically, Marianna died in the accident. The other three passengers were not hurt.

Concetta De Garbo was a friend and a neighbor of Lilia Glorioso. On the very night that Marianna died, Concetta had a dream. She dreamed that she was walking on the main street of Castelbuono when a car stopped in front of her. The driver spoke to Concetta and told her that Padre Pio was inside the car. Padre Pio then spoke to Concetta and asked her where she was going. She told him that she was going to visit her sister who was very ill. “I will go with you,” Padre Pio said to Concetta and he invited her to get in the car.

In Concetta’s dream, she and Padre Pio soon arrived at her sister’s house. Padre Pio prayed for Concetta’s sister and blessed her by placing his wounded hand on her. He then went over to the window which looked out onto the house of the Glorioso family. “Be sure to tell her to hurry because I will not be able to wait for her!” Padre Pio said to Concetta. She did not understand what he was talking about.

In her dream, Concetta then went over to the window and stood next to Padre Pio. As she looked out the window, she saw a woman across the street who seemed to be in great distress. She was dressed in black and her eyes were red from crying. “Oh, it is Lilia, the mother,” Padre Pio said. “I feel so sorry for her. She is suffering so much!” With that, Concetta woke up. Upon waking, Concetta heard loud voices as well as crying that seemed to be coming from the street. She went to the window and discovered that the noise was coming from the home of the Glorioso family. She got dressed and hurried over to their house. She then learned that Marianna had passed away.

That same day, Concetta visited her sister who had been gravely ill. She was surprised to see that her sister looked well. Her sister told her that all of her pain was gone and that she had never slept so well or so peacefully as she had on the previous night. Concetta remembered that in her dream, Padre Pio had prayed for her sister and had blessed her. Her sister made steady progress and was soon able to go back to work. When Concetta took her for a medical examination, the doctor gave her a clean bill of health.

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A Testimonial

My mother Angela had always been very devoted to Padre Pio and also to the Madonna Paradiso (the Madonna of Paradise) the patroness of the town where she grew up in Sicily.

When my brother Joseph was diagnosed with cancer, my mother prayed constantly to Padre Pio and to the Madonna, asking for a miracle. But a cure was not to be. My brother died in 2009 after suffering for one and a half years. My mother became so distraught and so heartbroken at my brother’s death that she told the family she no longer believed in God or in the power of the saints. She said that she was going to take all the statues, sacred paintings, and religious articles out of her house and that she would never pray again. She was finished with religion forever.

Several weeks later, my mother told me that something amazing had happened. In the middle of the night she saw Padre Pio who said to her, “I prayed as hard as I could for your son, but it was not meant to be. As he raised his hand and pointed upward he said, “Everything depends on God.”

The experience was so vivid that it woke my mother up from a sound sleep. She began to wonder, “Was it a dream or did Padre Pio actually pay me a visit?” She finally got back to sleep only to have the very same dream, exact in all the details. She again awakened and this time she stayed up for the rest of the night. The dream brought closure and peace to my mother. She never again spoke against the Church. She took up her practice of prayer and her devotions, just as she had in the past and remained faithful until her death.

– Margaret Gigante

 

St. Paul teaches that this life of ours is like traveling abroad from our home country. He says, “As long as we are in the body, we are traveling away from the Lord (Corinthians 2: 5-6).” Since we are still traveling in a foreign land, we ought to keep in mind what our home country is – that country to which we must hasten by turning our backs on the attractions and delights of this life. This homeland toward which we travel is the only place where we can find true rest because God does not wish us to find rest anywhere else. The reason is simple: if God gave us perfect rest while we were still abroad, we would find no pleasure in returning home. 

– St. Augustine

 

Books by Padre Pio Devotions

bookcoverPray, Hope and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 1 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press is available at amazon.com.

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Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book 11 written by Diane Allen and published by Padre Pio Press is available at amazon.com